The NBA Players Union has said they won’t rule out the possibility of decertification if the collective bargaining negotiations don’t go well. The move would potentially allow the players to pursue antitrust lawsuits against the NBA.
The NFLPA pursued a similar tactic in 1989, eventually gaining unrestricted free agency for the first time ever.
The upside is large, but the risks are significant too. For NBA players, a potential loss of guaranteed contracts and minimum salaries would accompany union decertification.
Union President Billy Hunter expressed concerns over the NBA’s unwillingness to compromise so far, telling Si.com there has been “little or no progress” in the negotiations. The union has been willing to make concessions in the percentage of revenue directed to players, but has asked for a number of items in return. To this point, the league has balked at the idea of returning the NBA age requirement to 18, and the request for a second mid-level salary exception among other items.
Still, while Hunter admits it is a possibility, he says decertification is “pretty far off.” He continued, “decertification is just one of the options that the union would have in the event of a protracted lockout, that’s all.”