A divided NBA players association pulled itself together Friday, but players weren’t willing to accept the labor agreement negotiated by union leadership.
After threats by some top players and agents to have the union decertified, some of the approximately 40 players emerging from the 4-hour meeting claimed the union was solid once more.
“The threat of decertification is null and void,” said the New York Knicks’ Charles Smith, the union’s first vice president.
“The biggest thing is that we are a unit. We’re not a group diversifying from everyone else.”
The union, however, put off a scheduled ratification vote on the new collective bargaining agreement, which team owners approved earlier in the day, and were to ask the NBA to reopen negotiations.
The players were especially unhappy with a luxury tax proposal in the new agreement.
“I would not want to characterize it as a ‘no’ vote,” said Simon Gourdine, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, “but to be very fair and honest, we have to look at a couple of aspects of that proposal and see whether we can refashion it in a way that is acceptable in negotiations with the NBA.”
The NBA issued only a brief statement following the players’ meeting.
“We haven’t heard from the union leadership, and until we do we feel it is inappropriate to comment,” said NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik, the league’s main negotiator.
Gourdine said he would talk to commissioner David Stern and determine what will happen next. He doesn’t know if a new deal can be made by July 1, when the current no-strike, no-lockout agreement expires.
“If there’s no agreement? Well, then we’re left to our mutual devices, I guess,” Gourdine said. “We’ll continue talking. We’ll see what happens.”