Will Decertification of the Players’ Union End the Lockout?

As basketball fans are well aware of, David Stern issued an ultimatum to the players’ union to either accept the owners’ latest proposal by the end of business hours Wednesday or these proposed offers will be off the negotiating table. While Stern was adamant to the press in the early hours last Sunday morning that this wasn’t an ultimatum, NBPA President Derek Fisher seemed to call it as it was.

According to sources at HOOPSWORLD, the owners’ latest proposal includes the following:

The N.B.A.’s current proposal to the players includes a soft salary cap, a 50 percent share of revenues for players and these features: Salary-cap and luxury-tax levels in years one and two of the new agreement will be no less than they were in 2010-11. By year three, they will be adjusted downward to conform to the new system.

– Sign-and-trade deals and the biannual exception will be available only to non-taxpaying teams.

– Extend-and-trade deals, such as the one signed by Carmelo Anthony last season, will be prohibited.

– The mid-level exception will be set at $5 million for non-taxpaying teams, with a maximum length between three and four years (alternating annually). The value of the exception will grow by 3 percent annually, starting in Year 3.

– The mid-level exception will be set at $2.5 million for taxpaying teams, with a maximum length of two years, and cannot be used in consecutive years. Its value will also grow at three percent annually.

– A 10 percent escrow tax will be withheld from player salaries, to ensure that player earnings do not exceed 50 percent of league revenues. An additional withholding will be applied in year one “to account for business uncertainty” stemming from the lockout.

– Maximum contract lengths will be five years for “Bird” free agents and four years for others.

– Annual contract increases will be 5.5 percent for “Bird” players and 3.5 percent for others.

– Players will be paid a prorated share of their 2011-12 salaries, based on the number of games played once the season starts.

– Team and player contract options will be prohibited in new contracts, other than rookie deals. But a player can opt out of the final year of a contract if he agrees to zero salary protection (i.e., if it is non-guaranteed).

The proposal is not up to par as far as the players’ association is concerned, but the owners feel that they have made several concessions and compromises in this new proposal in order to make the deal enticing for the players to accept. However, if the proposal isn’t accepted, the owners could turn to a 47/53 BRI percentage, controlled by the owners, a stricter system and a hard salary cap.

Lakers guard Steve Blake was a proponent of accepting the deal and has a base of support behind him from players who simply want to get back on the court and start receiving paychecks again.

On the other hand, there are several players who have publicly stated that they are willing to extend the lockout in order to reach an agreement that they believe is more fair. New York’s Chauncey Billups and Lakers guard Shannon Brown are among this group.

However it seems that the players’ union will choose to stay the course and fight for a new collective bargaining agreement that they believe is fair, with Fisher and Hunter’s announcement on Tuesday that they will decline the offer. Therefore, the rumors of decertification may come true. The main reason behind decertifying the union is so the players could bring a major class-action antitrust lawsuit against the owners.

Next Page: What Decertification Would Mean?

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