Blog Entry

'Involuntary' decertification a possibility?

Posted on: July 25, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 6:23 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Billy Hunter was pretty clear the day after the NBA lockout started: The union has no plans o decertify. But there could be a different play in the cards. According to, even if the union doesn't want to decertify, there could be an interesting way around it.
A source with knowledge of the meeting indicated that the idea of 'involuntary' decertification did come up; basically, a decertification that woud take place over Hunter's objections. That would require 30 percent of the union's players to sign a petition requesting a vote of the full membership to decertify. That vote would take place at satellite offices of the National Labor Relations Board across the country. A simple majority of the union membership would cause the dissolution of the body.

So why would a group of agents be pushing for this? If the union were to decertify, they could sue on antitrust grounds. But what's the reasoning? Leverage. It's always about who has the upper hand. It would be a blow to the owners having a legal battle on their hands with the potential to lose a lot of money in damages.

The risk though for players is potentially voiding contracts though.

As far as the $4 billion goes, the league’s contention that the contracts would disappear is true only to a point. At some point, the league will reach a deal with the union, and would almost certainly have to reinstate the players’ contracts once the union recertified. The alternative would be either implementing work rules on the players without a deal, which would leave the league vulnerable to a potential players’ strike, or additional antitrust penalties if players sought redress while they continued to play under the imposed rules.

At any rate, the agents do not believe that the league would actually go ahead and void all of those contracts. Such a move could, at least theoretically, make every player in the league a free agent, able to go wherever they wanted. And owners like, say, Miami’s Micky Arison, might have a problem with that.

Hunter has avoided even mentioning decertification and David Stern even went as far to call it the "nuclear option." With as slow and painful as the NFL's situation went with decertification playing a part in it, it's not that attractive an option.

And don't think decertification is a good thing if you're hoping for a full 2011-12 season. It would set stuff back. That's why it's a good sign that Hunter wants to avoid it. Instead of strong-arm negotiating tactics, by all appearances Hunter just wants to get to bargaining. Decertifying would mean that another battle would begin on top of the already painful CBA negotiations.

Let's hope the option stays nuclear. But it's on the table regardless, even if it's not being approach in the traditional circumstances.


Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: July 27, 2011 6:43 pm

'Involuntary' decertification a possibility?

Moses I agree. I was not saying this as something I see realistically happening but voiding those bad contracts would be a step towards a healthy NBA.

If Voided (and I don't think it happens), the owners could stipulate that each team only can negotiate with players on their current roster for the first month of negotiations. If there was a fairly hard cap, the elite players would jump to get the best contract available before the money ran out.

Interesting discussion but I know, not terribly realistic. Owners are not able to protect themselves from themself.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: July 27, 2011 2:22 pm

'Involuntary' decertification a possibility?

JimF - I like the thought, but your conclusion is wrong.  If the entire league were to become free agents, what are the chances the Blake-show stays with the Clips, Kevin Love stays in Minnesota, or ANYONE stays with Sacramento?  The bad teams would get worse - not better.  How many good players are going to sign in Indianapolis or Memphis? Guys are going to go to big markets to further their off-court appeal, and the small market teams would be stuck overpaying to get borderline stars.  Chris Bosh is nice, but given the opportunity, I might suggest that the Heat would make a move for Love or Griffin.  My beloved Knicks would make out well, the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls would be fine.  But what top 30 (heck, top 50) free agent is signing in Milwaukee or Toronto if all 30 teams are an option.

A salary cap would be impossible.  Without a union to collectively bargain for it, wage fixing is ILLEGAL, so there could be no salary cap.  The spend happy Knicks would be able to add Dwight Howard, Chris Paul AND Deron Williams (who played on a team with 3 starting PG's in college).  5 years ago the Knicks had a $120 million payroll.  The could pay Paul, Williams, Melo, Amare, and Howard $20 million each and still have $20 million to fill out the rest of hte roster.   New Orleans is already strapped for cash - without a cap, they would not be able to field a team that could win 10 games. 

But even if there was a salary cap, the big markets win again.  Suppose no player could make more than $10 million per season from the team.  Where do you think the "stars" would rush to in order to further their marketability elsewhere to make  up the difference?  They won't be signing in Cleveland or San Antonio.  No matter how "great" the city is in a small market, it is still a small market. 

Like I said, I LOVE the idea of everyone being a free agent (fantasy drafts on video games are the best way to start a dynasty), but a free-for-all hurts, not helps small market teams. 

Since: Jul 26, 2011
Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:41 pm

'Involuntary' decertification a possibility?

The elephant in the room regarding decertification is the fact that just 4 agents control enough players to easily get the votes of 130 players to decertify (30% of 435 players necessary to decertify)....and those power-agents are already on the move.  Ten sports agencies account for ONE BILLION in player contracts and control 240 players, or (69%)  SIXTY NINE PERCENT of all NBA players.

While the owners and League is cast as the "bad actor" in this "labor" dispute, a dozen agents have complete control over the players.....they have the contracts, they negotiate the sponsorships, they manage the money.  

So, do the math:
30 owners/businesses hire and pay 100% of the players
10 Sports agencies - 12 guys in suits i control:  70% of the players in the League (and take their 20%+commisssions)

so, where is Hunter in all this?  And are the players doing what their guys in suits tell them to do, or are they doing their own business management and voting for what they think is best for the best of all american sports?

PS:  If you have ever seen a sports agent in action who "took the higher moral ground"....please post his/her name.

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: July 25, 2011 11:19 pm

'Involuntary' decertification a possibility?

Voiding all contracts would be huge to rebuilding the NBA. This would take the Arenas contract off the books and underperformers like Hedo Turkoglu would never again get 52 million. Performing players could be reoffered similar deals (if cap space allowed but the duds would be gone. Then the owners would need an agreement to protect against their own stupidity so they can't offer obscene deals to mediocre players.

Clean slate; fresh start, everyone wins except the dud players.

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