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Report about Rip Hamilton shows players, agents not all unified

Oct 5, 2011, 11:52 PM EDT

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers

A bunch of agents talked on the phone Wednesday amongst themselves, saying they were looking for ways to help the union in its struggle with the owners. Of course it was not about what the agents wanted, it was about their players and an overriding concern for the greater good. Agents are altruistic like that.

These same agents sent a letter to their clients urging them to not cave to the owners — and not let union head Billy Hunter cave either. No going below 52 percent of “basketball related income.” The players had given enough, the agents said. Trust no one.

Pistons veteran Rip Hamilton reportedly got the letter and then told his agent Leon Rose to back off, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard on twitter:

Source says Rip Hamilton told his agent Leon Rose he’s upset Rose participated in letter, which is perceived by many as anti-union.

Source adds that Rip told Rose he’ll leave & take other players with him if Rose doesn’t leave the “anti-union” group.

Or maybe not. It didn’t take long before Rip went to twitter himself to shoot down the report.

@Chris_Broussard “Source says Rip Hamilton told his agent Leon Rose he’s upset Rose participated in letter.” 100% UNTRUE. Never happened.

Who knows if Hamilton said this or not, we’ll take his word for it. But the issue illustrates a larger point. The lesson here is not to think that the players are a unified front one way or another (or easily swayed by agents). The same can be said of the owners.

The hardest part of finalizing this deal will be for NBA Commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter to sell the final deal to diverse constituencies who want different things out of these negotiations. The hardliners on both sides want more, some are ready to sign and play yesterday, and others have very specific interests. Neither the owners are players want to pass a deal where they get just over half their members to approve it — both sides need a vast majority to really make this work.

The sides are close, but those last few yards to the goal line are the hardest to get.

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