A Small Light In The Labor Struggle

It was business as usual as the NBA held its 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. The Draft will happen on schedule because the collective bargaining agreement does not expire until after that. But who gets picked in the draft and how that plays into whatever free agent plans teams have will be greatly affected by what eventually happens in these negotiations.

It has been a pretty bleak picture so far. The owners want the players to give up much more money than they seem willing to give up. While negotiations seem to be cordial, the owners are getting entrenched in their position regarding drastic salary cap cuts and reduced pay to the players.

As Michael reported, Player X for ESPN the Magazine believes a lockout could open the floodgates to players going to Europe … and staying there. That would completely change the NBA landscape.

For sure even if the labor dispute is solved, the rules of free agency, the salary cap and anything with a dollar sign in front of it will change in the NBA. With the June 30 deadline coming up quicker than both sides probably would like to admit, the owners and players are feeling the crunch. That does not necessarily mean they are getting any close to an agreement.

Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the players and owners will have a big sit down meeting in June during the Western Conference Finals. He feels that the two sides will be able to get a lot of work done and closer to an agreement at that time. In that sense, it was a very good thing that NBA players’ association president Derek Fisher and the Lakers have been eliminated from the Playoffs. Fisher and the players committee along with their representatives will be present at this meeting.

Silver said the NBA is learning from some of the mistakes that have led to the NFL’s struggles to resolve their lockout.

“The throttle is down,” Silver told the Associated Press. “We realize time is short. Both sides are very aware what has happened in the NFL and the disruption to their business caused by the work stoppage. Both the owners and the union want to avoid that at all cost. We’re determined to make progress between now and the end of June.”


This is very good news for NBA fans. It does not appear the players union plans on de-certifying and is going to continue in the collective bargaining process. That means instead of having the debate and bargaining in court rather than between the two parties on their own. The two parties look to be determined to avoid the courts at all costs.


The success and entertainment value of the postseason so far has put a premium on getting things done. The league took a significant step back in popularity during the lockout in 1999 and it really has not recovered until now. Going back to a lockout and losing any portion of the season would be another crippling blow for the league.

“It would be hard to point to substantive progress in terms of the issues, but I think there is a sense that we are coming together in terms of a common understanding where the NBA finds itself,” Silver said. “I think we have agreed to disagree on multiple ways to reach that end and more than happy to discuss alternatives.”

It certainly is at least lip service that the league wants to make sure momentum keeps on rolling from this postseason. There is still the matter of actually coming to some agreement.

Chris Duhon, the union representative of the Magic, is not quite as optimistic that a lockout can be avoided. Duhon told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that he puts the chances of a lockout at about eight right now. That does not mean the season is in jeopardy. It means Duhon is pretty certain free agency will be delayed. For how long is the question.

But Duhon still feels the players and the union are far apart. This report came in the midst of reports that the players union was very dissatisfied with the owner’s last offer.

“We’re so far apart,” Duhon said. “I think it’s going to take a while. Right now, we’re watching what’s going on with the NFL as far as maybe backup plans or anything to help try to speed up the process. But we have a long ways to go.”

Those meetings in June are likely going to be where some type of agreement or the beginnings of one are going to be made. If not, we are going to be in for the long haul in this one.

Photos via DayLife.com.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily