The National Basketball Players Association has decided to disband rather than accept the NBA’s latest contract offer, the union announced on Monday.
NBA players have been locked out for 137 days, and without a union, they can sue the basketball league owners under antitrust laws and challenge the legality of the lockout, the New York Times reported. A lawsuit is expected to be filed within the next two days.
Four days ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league’s current proposal would be replaced with an inferior deal if the players did not accept it, the Times reported. According to USA Today, that proposal offered the players a 50-50 split of BRI (basketball-related income), less than the 57 percent the players had in the last collective bargaining agreement, which expired June 30.
"The players feel that they're not prepared to accept the ultimatums," union executive director Billy Hunter said at news conference on NBA TV, the Los Angeles Times reported. "They thought that it was extremely unfair on the part of the NBA ownership, management, to give them an ultimatum that they had to accept their proposal or confront a rollback of 47 percent."
NBA Commissioner David Stern told USA Today: "This is a proposal that does not call for a reduction on contract (no rollback), does not call for a hard cap, does not call for the absence of guaranteed contracts and will see salaries go from over $5 million to between $7 million and $8 million during the length of the deal. We think it's a very fair deal for the players."
"Frankly,” Stern added, “by what I would say is an irresponsible action at this late date, Billy Hunter has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday."
According to the Times:
The players will be represented by Jeffrey Kessler, who had been serving as the union’s outside counsel. He will be joined by David Boies, a renowned labor lawyer who represented the NFL in its defense against an antitrust suit by NFL players earlier this year.