Legal Options for NBA Players in the Current Owner Standoff

With the NFL kicking off and the NBA season scheduled to begin in October, attention will begin to shift to the basketball league as opening tip-off inches closer.

The NBA filed suit against the player’s association, which essentially gives them two choices. They can disband, a move that would cost everyone the majority if not all of the 2011-2012 season, or they can go back to the bargaining table and hope for a more productive result. Essentially, the NBA is threatening that if the player’s union chooses to disband, every single player contract currently existing will become immediately void and unenforceable, which would in turn mean that every player would need a new contract.

Despite this pressure on the association not to decertify and despite the many people trying to convince the union to do just that, the president of the union stated recently that this side of the issue is moot, because decertification was never an option that the union brought to the table. Instead, he has claimed that the entire suit by the NBA is an example of bad faith bargaining and states that the player’s association has been working to engage in good faith bargaining with the league for the last two years. He has also once again asked the NBA to come back to the bargaining table with the intent of making more productive use of the time remaining before the season begins.

Essentially, the players have the option of disbanding their union or wrestling with owners to negotiate until both sides have reached an agreement. If talks don’t become more productive soon, there will be at a minimum a halt to the start of the new season. It may well be that the player’s union is hoping that the losses owners will sustain if the lockout prevents ticket sales and gameplay will bring them a little closer to making some concessions.

Ultimately, the entire situation will come down to the owners. Right now, it looks as though either option that the players make can and likely will result in at least a partial season loss. If the owners decide that they are willing to take these losses, there is little that the players can do but disband or to keep trying to negotiate. But if owners start taking the potential for financial losses seriously, the player’s union may be able to go to the bargaining table with sound reasoning to try to reach a conclusion that will make everyone a winner.

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