NBA Lockout Watch, Day 22: Agents, Hunter To Discuss Possible Decertification
A number of NBA player agents will meet with NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter Friday to "discuss topics that include decertification" of the union, according to sources cited by Soshnick & Levinson of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Agents Arn Tellem and Mark Bartelstein are expected to attend. Decertification "would prevent the union from collectively bargaining with NBA team owners and allow players to sue the league under antitrust laws for unlawful restraint of trade." As the lockout approached, both the NBA and union said that they "preferred to continue negotiating rather than battle it out in the court system." The meeting "comes on the same day staff members from both the union and the league are scheduled to negotiate" in N.Y. (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/22).
FOLLOW THE LEADER: SI's Ian Thomsen writes the prospects for a new NBA CBA "may hinge on the respect commanded on both sides of the table" by Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher, who "sounds both sober and upbeat" about the negotiations. While discussing the CBA, Fisher "looks as if he has lost Game 1 of a playoff series he remains confident of winning." Traditionally, Hunter "has served as the point man in negotiations" with NBA Commissioner David Stern, "while the president has been a liaison to the players." But Fisher "has worked hard to extend the reach of his office," and NBPA sources contend that "no player leader has had a better, more nuanced grasp of the CBA or been better able to articulate a vision for the union." Fisher hopes to convince both the owners and players "to pursue the middle ground." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "He's a strong advocate for all of the players in the league and he's well-versed in all of the issues. He has set the tone for a very professional atmosphere." Since succeeding Antonio Davis as NBPA President, Fisher "has immersed himself in the fine print of the deal while seeking to increase the role of player president." He launched a "negotiating session at All-Star weekend in Los Angeles with a presentation about the players' role in growing the league." Thomsen writes, "At this stage the best hope of saving the season depends on continuing a dialogue that leads to a shared understanding. This is where Fisher's strengths come into play" (SI, 7/25 issue).