It was a week of progress for the NBA Players Association as it works toward submitting a new collective bargaining proposal within the May1-July 1 window that executive director Billy Hunter offered in March, sources told CBSSports.com.
Internal staff meetings have heated up in New York, where union lawyers are said to be getting close to a framework for a proposal countering the owners' draconian contract offer, which was rejected by the players during All-Star weekend.
Asked about the progress of internal discussions at a recent playoff game, Hunter declined to give specifics of the union's counter-offer, saying details were still being finalized. In a March interview with CBSSports.com, Hunter estimated that the union would have a new proposal in the hands of owners before the free-agent negotiating period begins on July 1.
As for a potential collusion lawsuit stemming from the NBA's claims last year that the 2010-11 salary cap could be drastically reduced amid plummeting revenues, sources told CBSSports.com that such a legal option remains on the table. But without proof that the league was spreading doom-and-gloom news about revenue and cap projections with the intent to have a chilling effect on free-agent signings, a collusion suit would be unlikely. With no smoking gun, one source said, legal action would be akin to "throwing good money after bad."
Commissioner David Stern recently contradicted those previous gloomy projections by revealing that the current projection for the '10-'11 cap is $56.1 million -- about $6 million more than the worst-case scenario presented to teams in a league memo last July.
Owners and players are trying to avoid the league's first work stoppage since the 1998-99 season when the current labor agreement expires after the 2010-11 season.