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NBA players’ union faces major decision

By Tim Reynolds
Associated Press / November 14, 2011

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MIAMI - Decision day for NBA players may have arrived.

The players’ association will meet in New York this morning, a session that could lead to the end of the lockout or send it into a bigger tailspin. Representatives from all 30 teams are expected, as are other players, to examine and discuss a seven-page summary of the NBA’s latest collective bargaining proposal to the union.

The proposal, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, was dated to be delivered to union executive director Billy Hunter on Friday. At least some of the people who will be in the NBPA meeting said yesterday they had not yet seen the offer, creating more than a little confusion over what exactly is on the table.

“We haven’t asked for anything more than what we had,’’ Heat player representative James Jones said. “We understand the times. We understand the economy. We just want a fair deal where both sides are bearing the weight of the present times and with an eye on the future of the game of basketball.’’

Sounds so simple. But it’s not.

By today, things could finally become clear - because this union meeting may decide if basketball will be played this season.

Some project that team payrolls will exceed $100 million in the next five or so years, even to the chagrin of many owners. And Saturday, commissioner David Stern said again if the current offer is rejected, a harsher one - where owners would keep about another $120 million of basketball related income, or BRI, each year, along with other so-called system issues that players didn’t want - will take its place.

“We’re not going to cancel the season this week,’’ Stern said. “We’re just going to present them what we told them we would.’’

The NBA wants a 72-game season to begin Dec. 15. For that to happen, a handshake deal almost certainly would have to be in place this week. Stern says it will take about 30 days to get the season started once an agreement is reached.

There are 17 items in the memo, including how teams paying a luxury tax would not be able to acquire free agents in sign-and-trade deals after the 2012-13 season. One of the key points comes on Page 5, where the NBA says “there will be no limitations on a player’s ability to receive 100 percent guaranteed salary in all seasons of a contract.’’

Players have repeatedly said they will reject a deal where contracts are not guaranteed.

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