NBA Lockout: Players Still Considering Decertifying, But Consequences Could Result, According To Report

The NBA lockout has no immediate end in sight -- the owners and players have yet to make arrangements to even meet -- but the chance either side takes it to court like their NFL brethren seems to be small. 

The NBA Players Association could choose to decertify its union, as the NFL players did right before the NFL owners chose to go the lockout route, but union head Billy Hunter told Howard Beck of the New York Times on Saturday that the players would rather negotiate than take their chances settling their disputes in court.

That doesn't mean dissolving the union and filing an antitrust lawsuit isn't still a possible for the NBPA, however.

"It's not off the table in any way," Jeffrey Kessler, the outside counsel for the Players Association, told The Times. "There's no immediate urgency to that issue. It's an option the players are actively considering. But they have time to decide whether it makes sense to end the union or not."

Kessler said that decertifying might help the NBA's rookies and free agents, actually, based on Friday's court rulings in the NFL lockout case.

"The decision obviously indicates that one option available to NBA players is to end their union and seek an injunction against the NBA's lockout for all free agents and rookies," Kessler said in the story. "And that's something that the players will consider in the future, with all of their other options, as things proceed."

If that ultimately does happen, though, Beck writes that there are plenty of other consequences that would happen as a result.

The decertification and antitrust route is a risky one. Without a union, or a collective bargaining agreement, the players lose benefits like minimum contracts and guaranteed salaries. The owners can impose work rules. Commissioner David Stern has also implied that decertification would jeopardize existing player contracts.

Decertifying allows the players to challenge the N.B.A.'s system through antitrust litigation, but the real value is to gain leverage at the bargaining table.

It seems the players, at least for now, are better off negotiating at the bargaining table rather than through the court system. The first step, however, is to actually sit down at said table.

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