Sunday, December 28, 2014

The NBA: where things stand

Deep Sixer: Although there has been little forward movement in the NBA lockout, there have been a number of thoughtful pieces aimed at putting common sense into the mess created by NBA owners and players.

The NBA: where things stand

The NBA players rejected the league´s latest offer and have begun the process to disband the union. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The NBA players rejected the league's latest offer and have begun the process to disband the union. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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Although there has been very little forward movement in the NBA lockout, there have been a number of thoughtful pieces aimed at injecting common sense into the mess created by the league's owners and players. 

First, here's the latest from the NBA lockout: the National Basketball Player's Association — now a trade association — has filed antitrust lawsuits in California and Minnesota. The NBA has hired high-powered attorney David Boies, who filed both suits. The lawsuits are filed on behalf of plantiffs (NBA players such as Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Leon Powe, Kevin Durant, etc.) against the defendant, the NBA. An initial hearing for one lawsuit was set for Feb. 29, which goes to show how lengthy this process could be, although it's certain that Boies will get any and all court dates moved up.

In the meantime, the NBA and the "trade association" are busy firing off letters to judges and letters disputing the validity of one another's claims. There is much risk in the move the union/trade association executed. Technically, every NBA player — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitski — is free to be signed by any NBA team. The union now no longer exists, which means the previous contracts have dissolved along with the union. Obviously, the belief is that once this labor negotiation is settled — however it's settled, and however long that takes — the players will re-form the union. Also interesting is that the end result of these antitrust lawsuits, if they are followed through to the bitter end and won by the trade association, would be something called treble damages. Although tremendously unlikely, if the NBA were forced to pay treble damages, the league would likely be bankrupted.

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Yeah, so, this is great.

Of course, there's likely an in-between at this point: negotiating the lawsuit, in essence. Although the union has dissolved, the trade association's lawyers can negotiate with the NBA toward a settlement. Since I never passed the bar, or went to law school, or even spent one minute thinking about lawyerly things, I refer all interested readers to this story: Settlement talks.

The question becomes: can the players spin this move to gain leverage? It's a tricky situation, because if it's viewed that dissolving the union was done to gain leverage, as the NBA claims, the move will be rejected by the courts. If the trade association can prove, or convince, that dissolving the union was the last resort, executed only when it became clear the NBA was no longer willing to negotiate, the players will be on more solid ground.

The NBA and its 30 owners have set up a conference call for Thursday, Nov. 17, to discuss their next moves in response to the union's decision to dissolve and file two lawsuits. The owners will be discussing, as NBA.com wrote, "responses and strategy." Here's the link to NBA.com's full update: Owners set call.

OK, enough of difficult legal discussion that I'm only barely grasping.

If you missed Tuesday's post on the state of the NBA, you can find that here: Un-understandable. Writer Ian Thomsen at SI.com has posted two wonderful stories this week: one about the frustration of NBA fans and the other an idea of how David Stern could save the NBA

Still looking forward to posting about basketball and not litigation.

— Kate Fagan


Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at kfagan@phillynews.com.

About this blog

Keith Pompey has been an Inquirer reporter since September 2004 and took over the Sixers beat in the summer of 2013 after covering Temple basketball and football for the previous three years.

Marc Narducci has served in a variety of roles with the Inquirer since beginning in 1983. He has covered the 76ers as a backup and a beat writer. In addition, Narducci has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series and a lot in between.

Keith Pompey Inquirer Staff Writer
Marc Narducci Inquirer Staff Writer
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