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ANOTHER SUMMER, ANOTHER LOCKOUT? NBA'S LABOR PAINS LINGER
Published June 3, 1996
NBA officials "reportedly are privately talking about a lockout this summer," according to Sam Smith of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, because the CBA approved by the players last September was never signed. Bulls Player Rep Steve Kerr, who is resigning over the "furor": "The league is claiming union leadership reneged on a lot of the negotiations [former NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine] did. No one seems to know what Simon negotiated. To me, it's minor details. But I think it could get ugly. The whole thing is wacko. All of a sudden our union is being led by the law firm that tried to get the union decertified." Smith notes the talk, according to some "insiders," is of an August 1 lockout, "giving teams time to make free-agent deals, but then shutting down the league again until a final agreement can be reached" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/2). NBA Senior VP for Legal & Business Affairs Jeffrey Mishkin avoided talk of a lockout: "We have an agreement. [The NBPA is] trying to repudiate many of the key points. But we plan to operate under the terms of that agreement as we believe it to be." Agent Bill Strickland, a candidate to be new NBPA Exec Dir: "It would not surprise me if the league locked us out again. There have been quiet whispers for the last few weeks. The league is trying to convince people that the disputed points were agreed to, but I can tell you I was very involved and there are a lot that weren't. Based on the information I have, there is no agreement." Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who took over negotiations on the details of the new CBA after the ouster of Gourdine, does not believe the league has the "legal standing" to institute a lockout. Kessler: "Both sides agree there is a document. We disagree on the terms." In Boston, Peter May notes the deadline is July 1, when the "floodgates will open" for free agents and new deals (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/2).