NBA lockout: Players need to hold formal vote on deal
Little time remains on the clock, and it's critical the players union draws up the final play correctly.
The NBA owners issued them what league Commissioner David Stern considered their final proposal in Thursday's meeting, a deal that entails a 50-50 split in basketball-related income and mixed concessions in various system issues mostly tilted the owners' way. Of course, take deadlines and threats as nothing more than negotiating tactics. But Stern isn't kidding when he says a rejected offer will prompt the owners to offer only 47% of BRI, salary rollbacks and probably even more.
The players union has every right to reject the proposal. After all, they've made most of the concessions. Despite the players considering they'd accept a 50-50 split in exchange for better deals on system issues, CBS Sports' Ken Berger and ESPN.com's Marc Stein both report that the owners' offer Thursday didn't differ much from their earlier proposals. But before the players decide to decertify, they need to hold a formal yes or no vote among the 450-plus players representing the union.
The main forces driving decertification involve high-money players who can absorb a lost season and high-profile agents who will have streams of NBA clients for years to come. The rank-and-file players don't have that same luxury. Say what you will that any NBA player shouldn't have to be living paycheck to paycheck. But in the pure practical sense of what's best for the players, a formal vote will give the players union the best gauge of where exactly each one stands.
That doesn't just give executive director Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher a more definitive gauge that measures the players' temperature. It minimizes further cracks in the union. A behind-the-scenes push for decertification could only cause resentment among players who just want to play, no matter how one-sided the deal is. It could also expose the reality that many players aren't prepared for a prolonged lockout. The union immediately caving to the owners' demands could only heighten animosity among the players who believe they've already conceded enough. But we won't know for sure what the odometer reads unless a vote takes place.
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Photo: Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players' union, speaks while standing near union President Derek Fisher, left, during a news conference early Thursday morning in New York. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)