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 NBA.com, 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.