NBA lockout: little progress, deadline looms

NBA lockout seems as intractable as ever as owners give union until Wednesday to reconsider their offer. Players legal strategy to end NBA lockout would take months.

Bebeto Matthews/AP/File
In this file photo taken last month, NBA Commissioner David Stern holds a news conference following talks with the union in New York to end the NBA lockout. The owners have given the union until Wednesday to accept their offer – or a large part of the season could disappear.

If there's no agreement by Wednesday's NBA-imposed deadline, there's not much to look forward to in lockout negotiations.

As in, a large chunk of the season might start slipping away.

"If the right deal isn't there, why would we have a season?" Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison said Sunday. "This is a business, but at the same time we're trying to get a fair deal."

The owners gave the players' union until Wednesday to reconsider their rejection of a proposal in which they would receive 49 percent to 51 percent of league revenue.

The players said they would rarely, if ever, actually receive 51 percent based on the sliding-scale proposal. Their next step might be to dissolve the union, which would throw the entire negotiation process into chaos.

If the union dissolves, or decertifies, players can sue the NBA under U.S. antitrust laws, claiming their ability to market themselves was damaged when NBA owners locked out players after the last collective-bargaining agreement expired July 1.

If decertification is the path chosen, 30 percent of the NBA's 439 players would have to sign a petition to decertify. Then the National Labor Relations Board would preside over a vote by players, with decertification taking place if more than half the players agreed.

Union executives Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher want to hammer out an agreement the old-fashioned way — in a hotel ballroom. They could still negotiate if the union gets dissolved, but the importance of labor talks would be side-by-side with presumably slow court proceedings.

Legal experts have said it would take until at least January for an antitrust lawsuit to work its way through the judicial system.

"It's tough, it's frustrating. I think us players, we're waiting for the right deal and we're willing to hold out," Collison said. "There's a reason why we rejected that (latest) deal, but I put my faith in Derek Fisher. I'm pretty sure he's going to do the players real wonders."

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