The board to save the entire NBA season was set after Tuesday’s much hyped meeting. The pieces are all in place and there either will be a deal before Monday, saving the 82-game season as scheduled, or there won’t. In which case, we go into a potentially devastating period where the major deadline is gone and each side retrenches itself.
Of course, if we are close to a deal, the agents act as that temperamental younger cousin who wants to come in and play, and when they are not allowed to, they flip the board, scattering the pieces everywhere and forcing you to restart.
That is pretty much what the NBA’s agents have threatened throughout the lockout by urging decertification and threatening to advise their clients to vote against any deal they, the agents, deem unfair. What they want in light of Tuesday’s meeting is unknown. But they have gotten together, at least, to make clear their interests as the union moves forward.
Seven of the most powerful agents in the league, who likely hold some sway in helping pass whatever agreement is eventually reached, had a teleconference meeting to discuss how they can help Billy Hunter and the union reach a fair deal.
Several of these agents have been very vocal in their frustrations with Hunter’s strategy during this now-prolonged lockout. They wanted him to take a more aggressive stance including the nuclear decertification option. None of the agents commented on the meeting, but ESPN reports that the group agreed to back off some of its more militant demands — including decertification — and its anti-union rhetoric.
This is welcome news for the union, for sure. Throughout the entire lockout, Derek Fisher has sent numerous letters to the union members urging solidarity and unity. It is widely assumed that at some point, the players are going to crack under the increasing weight of not getting paid. So now, getting every player and their representative on the same page, could clarify what the players are seeking and what they believe is a fair deal. That means passing the new collective bargaining agreement will be a lot easier and we can get back to basketball.
Of course we are a long way from that point.
Getting the agents in step with the union is perhaps a sign of progress. In-fighting is always a way to prevent a deal. The story about Richard Hamilton threatening to drop Leon Rose if the agents worked to undermine the union’s work, which Hamilton refuted, was a troubling one and showed perhaps the divide that many suspect might exist within the players. Maybe they feel that a fair deal is close to begin on the table. Maybe the union has come to see the agents might be right with their hard-line decertification demands.
This is a high-stakes game, nobody is going to tip the board without a good reason.
The players are likely continuing to get together to formulate their strategy as the owners are before the next meeting. David Stern is hoping it can be Sunday — Yom Kippur will prevent meetings Friday night and Saturday (insert Jewish lawyer joke here) — so that there is at least a chance to meet his Monday deadline to save the first two weeks of the season.
Hopefully both sides are getting their eggs in a row to come together one more time and solve this thing in time.