We had hoped that the Executive Committee and the players would have the good sense to put it to their membership, but they have decided — obviously having been hopped up by Mr. Hunter and the lawyers brought in — that this was a good negotiating tactic. That’s all it is: a negotiating tactic. You don’t get exactly the deal you want, you disclaim interest, and you sue.
– David Stern, earlier this afternoon on ESPN’s SportsCenter
The NBA and its players took a huge step apart today as the players’ union filed a disclaimer of interest with the aim of taking the NBA to court.
The players’ union took the action without putting the NBA’s most recent offer up to a vote, instead voting upon the disclaimer action among the 30 team player representatives. It was unanimously approved.
By filing a disclaimer, the union dissolves immediately. Had they decided to decertify the union instead, such a process would have taken up to two months.
Without a players’ union, the NBA’s anti-trust exemption is gone, and the players’ can initiate a lawsuit within the next few days. Players’ head Billy Hunter said that such a suit would occur in the next two days.
However, bargaining discussions can still occur while the legal proceedings go into motion, so it is possible that the two sides could continue to work on a deal. On the other hand, if the legal action is taken to its fullest conclusion, it may take multiple years to resolve.
NBA league executives have maintained that a deal would need to precede the start of a season by about a month. The timetable is now further complicated by the pending lawsuit; once filed, the two sides would need to settle, reorganize the players, and ratify a new agreement.
Below is Mr. Hunter’s announcement from this morning. (h/t to nbavideosnow)