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NBA lockout: Issues players must settle in Thursday's meeting

November 3, 2011 |  8:00 am

Derek Fisher

The NBA lockout has nearly reached four months, and there's more than just negotiating with NBA Commissioner David Stern that's left the players union restless. There's also issues they have to discuss amongst themselves. 

For worse, the two sides don't have any negotiating sessions scheduled. But at least the NBA Players Assn. plans to meet Thursday in New York on what will likely involve a number of timely issues. Below are two of the things the players union must iron out. 

1. Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter need to clear the air. At this point, all sides have performed damage control over the report from Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock that Fisher secretly met with Stern about players accepting a 50/50 split as a quid pro quo. A 50/50 deal isn't necessarily a bad thing, but Fisher and Hunter need to be on the same page for two reasons. A fracture could cause the NBA to try to exploit the union out of more concessions. But worse, it can delay a deal if there's no clear strategy on how to move forward. Various players expressed their restlessness Wednesday. Consider these tweets from Boston forward Glen Davis: "Take the 51% man and let's play"; and Houston guard Terrence Williams: "Hey @TheNBPA Let’s play BALL enough with the stare off."

2. The NBAPA needs to honestly assess how many lost games it can absorb. The players union has already made concessions in basketball-related income, dropping from 57% to 53% to 52.5% to 52%. Meanwhile, the owners have only increased their offer from 47% to 50%. But the NBAPA may need to concede further because the owners can financially weather more missed games, and the court of public opinion will always go against the players. If the 430 members of the union have actually saved enough of their income to forgo a paycheck, that should give them the confidence to hold their ground. If not, the NBAPA needs to formally decide to make whatever necessary concessions to minimize their losses. 


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Photo: Billy Hunter, center, executive director of the NBA Players Assn., speaks at a news conference last month in New York. Hunter and NBAPA President Derek Fisher, far left, are trying to hold together a membership that in some corners is getting restless for a deal. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images