The NBA Players Association announced earlier today that they had rejected the latest offer from the league and are not going back for more negotiation sessions. Instead, association executive director Billy Hunter says that the players are going to take the league to court and try to disband the union. I knew that if the players turned down this offer the season would be in jeopardy, but I didn't think it would be to this extent. Said Hunter:
"As of this moment, we're going to be in the process of converting the NBA Players Association into a trade association. The players feel that they are not prepared to accept any ultimatums."
Hunter said the NBA was "not willing and prepared to negotiate," adding that he felt the players have given up enough during the negotiations. Also speaking to the media today was union president Derek Fisher, who was obviously on the same page as Hunter. Said Fisher:
"We continue to want to get to work, to get back to work, to negotiate, but that process has broken down. Going forward, collective bargaining will not be how this process continues for us. We'll let our legal team really lead the charge."
The league has made it clear they want things to be drastically different in the new CBA then they were in the previous one. Owners were losing a lot of money, though it was nobody's fault but their own to overpay on contracts and make that the norm. The two sides have negotiated plenty and the players seem to have conceded a lot, but in the opinion of the league it hasn't been enough.
This latest proposal that the players rejected today had a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, though the area that seemed to upset some players the most were the amount of restrictions for teams that spent more then others, limiting their options when it came to free agents. NBA commissioner David Stern thinks the deal was a very good and fair one, and says now that any offer they come back with will be far less generous. Said Stern:
"The next time we meet to discuss anything, we'll be discussing the 47 percent proposal. This is it. We've been negotiating this for 2½ years. The owners authorized a revised proposal, and they said if it's not acceptable and they want to keep negotiating, we present them with a 47 percent, flex cap proposal. They know it."
Going forward, things do not look good. Maybe the threat of the players disbanding along with the loss of an entire NBA season will be enough to force a deal that both sides can live with, but right now there seems to be a lot of anger and hostility coming from the players side of the fence. They feel that they have given up a lot in these negotiations, and that is true.
The players have, in my opinion, given up a lot when compared to the last CBA. However, since the owners lost so much money due to the previous deal, they want to make sure that if they agree to a new one it will ensure that they will not only stop losing money, but begin making some back. It doesn't matter that the players are willing to take a lot less money with the new CBA because it isn't enough that it gets the owners to the amount they decided they need.
Both sides have been playing an intense game of chicken to see which one blinks first and gets out of the way, but now it seems that neither side has moved enough to satisfy the other, and now we're seeing what happens when they crash. We can still be hopeful that somehow, some way, they find some middle ground and make this season happen...but right now there is a very dark cloud looming over the season threating to wipe it out entirely.