Roger Mason walked out of Thursday’s players-only meetings to declare that the players are “absolutely” unified.How naïve.
About 50 disgruntled NBA players – including several All-Stars – went behind union leadership’s back this week to discuss the potential of league decertification, according to reports from the New York Times and Yahoo.
A move to decertify would give players the ability to sue the NBA as individual players under federal antitrust laws. This would shift discussions from the boardroom to the courtroom, which could last up to two months.
All but guaranteeing the cancellation of an NBA season.
The group, which reportedly includes Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade, gathered on a conference call Tuesday to discuss their options and then spoke with an antitrust lawyer Thursday night – mere hours after the union affirmed the group’s solidarity.
The dissatisfied faction has grown exceedingly frustrated by the union’s concessions. They’ve offered to decrease their basketball related income share from 57 per cent to 52.5 per cent. Players also oppose restrictions to free agent signings by teams exceeding the league’s luxury cap.
Owners remain committed to a maximum 50-50 revenue split and the elimination of salary-cap exceptions for teams over the threshold. There are owners that even seek to lower their offer now that the total revenue has shrunk as the first month of games have been cancelled.
But that would make a deal nearly impossible. Assuming it’s not already too late.
“In terms of long-term or even short-term stability of the league, it’s obviously a huge setback if [the players] go through with it,” Gabe Feldman, Tulane University’s director of sports law, told the NYT’s Howard Beck. “And that’s a big if.”
And that “if” is the only thing saving the 2011-2012 NBA season. Having already announced a joint session between the union and owners for the first time in a week, many believe this is just a last ditch effort by players to gain whatever leverage they have left entering Saturday’s negotiations in New York.
But it could also backfire against owners who continue to believe they hold the upper hand.
The first step of decertification requires 30 per cent of the union – about 130 players – to sign a petition. The group would then need a simple majority to officially break as a membership. It would also officially dismiss union leadership, including executive director Billy Hunter, from their positions.
“If there is a coup of the union, then the nonunionized players have a much stronger argument that they should be entitled to bring an antitrust suit,” Feldman said.
But that still doesn’t guarantee them any better deal then they are currently being offered.
Just a full year without paychecks.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.