When representatives for the NBA owners and NBA Players Association recently agreed to resume talks on Saturday, it could hardly be considered a bad thing. Well, apparently a small faction of NBA players (and almost certainly their agents) disagree. Reports have surfaced from the New York Times' Howard Beck and Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski that approximately 50 players participated in two calls with anti-trust lawyers to explore the possibility of decertifying the Players' Union and suing the NBA under anti-trust law.
The threat of anti-trust litigation will almost certainly affect the quality of the negotiations between representatives for the NBA owners and NBA Players Association, because it signals a lack of good faith in the collective bargaining process by at least some of the union membership. Ultimately, the hope is that this is nothing more than a ploy to create leverage at the negotiating table, because true decerficiation would likely mean the season will be cancelled. David Stern has referred to decertification and anti-trust litigation as a "nuclear option," because it would lead to prolonged litigation of individual player suits challenging potential anti-trust violations like the NBA draft and restricted free agency, which are currently protected from legal scrutiny under labor laws and collective bargaining negotiation doctrines.
As Beck reports, some players are tired of giving away their rights at the negotiating table:
The 50-player faction is essentially demanding that the union make no more concessions. That means holding firm for a 52.5 percent share of league revenue - as the union has done so far - and rejecting any new restrictions on contracts and free agency.
For Bulls fans and players, the idea of shutting down the season would be disastrous. MVP Derrick Rose is in the prime of his career, and to think any more of it would be wasted in a court battle is saddening. Here's to hoping the Bulls' window of championship contention is not a victim of any more collateral damage from the NBA Lockout.
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For more on why this is such an important turn in NBA Lockout news, make sure to check out Tom Ziller's column on the impact of the push for decertification.