NBA lockout: Derek Fisher skeptical of any 'major movement' soon
Even within the comfy confines of his weeklong basketball camp in downtown Los Angeles, Lakers guard Derek Fisher couldn't escape the question that continues to follow him.
As president of the National Basketball Players Assn, Fisher found plenty of 7- to 15-year-olds asking him persistent questions this week about the current NBA lockout and whether it would eat into the 2011-2012 season.
"I tell them like everybody else, I'll work as hard as I possibly can to make sure basketball starts up again as soon as possible," said Fisher, who incidentally enough, stressed to the campers about the need to persevere during challenging circumstances. "Obviously my role is to get a deal done that works for the balance of our players. That's why I've been elected."
The next item of business entails having a meeting Monday in New York where he will restart negotiations with the league, the first meeting since the work stoppage became official on July 1 and a month-long period Fisher described as "weirdly quiet." Because of the long time period since negotiations, Fisher sounded skeptical on what issues the union could actually sort out in Monday's meeting.
"I don't know if there's going to be any major movement on Monday," Fisher said Friday outside of his camp at Roybal Learning Center. "I think we've agreed maybe to table some of the economic issues and really focus on the system issues and non-economic items that are still extremely important to rounding out a collective bargaining agreement. Hopefully we can get some of those things done on Monday."
There's still plenty of issues to iron out.
Owners want to cut player salaries from 57% of basketball revenue in the last deal to about 45%, while players offered to take 54.3%. The NBA says the league lost $340 million in 2009-10 season and that 23 of 30 teams were unprofitable, but the union believes most of that points to bad ownership decisions. And the league wants to reduce the size and length of player's guaranteed contracts, but the union wants that to still remain available for negotiating purposes.
The players union is also waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to act on a complaint the players filed in May, alleging that the NBA did not bargain in good faith before their collective-bargaining agreement expired June 30. That's why Fisher didn't find it to be a good idea for the union to consider decertifying.
Instead, Fisher views players considering to play overseas to be positive, arguing that the union is in the "support position" because it believes it gives players additional income opportunities and possibly puts more pressure on the league to reach a new deal. He disputed any notion that movement would actually hurt the union's cause.
"Of course a lot of it comes back to economics, but if as players, we feel we can operate under a fair system, then we can maybe work toward a fair number," Fisher said. "I think our counterparts feel differently where they want to get a number set and not be concerned about the way the system looks if they get the right number. We don't think that's the best way to approach it. We want to make sure we keep a fair system in place for all players now and coming in later."
-- Mark Medina
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