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Talking decertification, union moves with CBA expert Larry Coon

Nov 7, 2011, 1:27 PM EDT

NBA Labor Basketball AP

If an NBA writer has a labor question — specifically a question about the Collective Bargaining Agreement — we call Larry Coon. Pretty much all of us do.

He wrote the CBA FAQ that is a go-to resource not only for NBA writers and fans but some agents. And know that some NBA teams have taken notice of Coon and his work, and thought about the next step. Now with ESPN, Coon is THE go-to guy on all things NBA labor. We’re lucky to call him a friend of this blog.

So we talked with Coon about what is next for the players union — and part of that is decertification

“I think they should start the decertification process now, because it takes 45 days, and during that time they’ll have additional leverage. I don’t think there’s any reason NOT to get the ball rolling at this point…” Coon said in a conversation with ProBasketballTalk. “It’s a often-made mistake for people to assume the player’s don’t have leverage. A pending decertification vote increases that leverage.”

But that threat is only good if there is the will to back it up. Would the players really vote for decertification? Depends on when they vote, Coon said.

“The timing is crucial – if the vote is before the owners’ deadline to cancel the season (likely early January), then there may not be enough votes from players who understand that decertification likely clinches a year’s lost wages, and perhaps more, for an unknown process with an uncertain outcome. Many players would rather just take what’s on the table,” Coon said. “After the season is canceled, decertification would be much more likely.”

The players might be coaxed into a deal, but not one they think is unfair. The owners cannot just go for the rout, they have to offer some kind of olive branch to the players.

“Yes, I think (David) Stern needs to give them something so they can save face,” Coon said. “And as (Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski) put it, I think they need to stop hurling alley-oops when they’re up by 30 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, trying to push the margin to 40.”

Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter — the player and director at the head of the union — do not have to present Stern’s deal to the players union. But Coon adds that if they feel the majority of players — or even a significant minority — do want to settle that has to be taken into account.

For the record, Coon has always pretty much thought a deal would be reached just before the deadline to cancel the entire season. As happened in 1999. Which looks more likely right now than anything else.

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