Aug 2, 2011, 8:57 PM EDT
We are nowhere near the end of this lockout. Sadly. Especially sad since you could throw a group of five or so bloggers (or NBA writers, or you and your friends) in a room and we could hash out a deal in 24 hours that would pretty close to where the two sides will land after a couple of months and untold lawyers fees.
But Tuesday’s actions by the NBA — filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations board complaining the players are not negotiating in good faith, and filing a pre-emptive lawsuit saying that if the union does decertify all current contracts should be void — could actually help move us toward a resolution.
Because something needs to move the two sides off the current stalemate where neither side feels a need to compromise. That’s the only way a deal is getting done, and right now there is no pressure.
The best pressure should come as the deadline looms in the second half of next month where regular season games could be lost. The momentum the league would lose after its most popular season in a decade should be enough to scare teams.
But it’s not scaring the hardline owners – they guys who paid big money and leveraged themselves for franchises and need a cash flow now — and it’s not scaring the players, who keep talking about Europe.
David Stern didn’t seem particularly concerned about players going to Europe when speaking to the Associated Press Tuesday night.
Locked out by the league, numerous players have said they would consider playing overseas. Yet Stern tells The Associated Press there are “maybe 10, 15, even 20 players who might, might be able to secure employment, but nothing approaching the NBA system.”
On ESPN he actually tried to play a little divide and conquer with the union, saying only the high priced players are going to find good deals overseas and the rank and file could be left out. It should be noted Deron Williams is the only elite player to sign a European deal so far, everyone else has been rank and file.
Taking things to the NLRB and the courts carries risks for both sides — you can’t control the outcome. You may think you have the best argument and the law on your side, but a judge may see it differently.
Still, a ruling by the NLRB that one side or the other is not negotiating in good faith, or a ruling on what happens to contracts with decertification, could tilt the balance of power. It could give one side real leverage.
It could force actual, meaningful negotiations.
Right now, the legal moves by the league and the players union are just stepped up posturing. It’s no different than what has gone on before, save for some lawyers are getting rich. Well, richer. Until something happens that forces one or both sides to move off their hard lines and actually negotiate, nothing is going to happen.
And if it takes a lawsuit to make that happen, the please sue away.
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