NEW YORK -- Support among players and agents for the owners' revised collective bargaining proposal appears to be lower than it was for the previous offer, and approximately half the union membership is expected to sign decertification petitions in a show of defiance, multiple people involved in the process told CBSSports.com Friday.
"This isn't going to fly," said one formerly moderate agent now on board with the movement to decertify and vote down the owners' latest ultimatum proposal -- if it goes up for a vote at all.
At least 15-20 agents representing an array of agencies held a conference call Friday to plot their next strategy as players and their representatives angered by the proposal prepared to submit the decertification cards to the National Labor Relations Board seeking an election to dissolve the union.
The NLRB almost certainly wouldn't authorize an election unless the National Basketball Players Association withdrew its unfair labor practices charge against the NBA -- something union officials are not believed to be considering, as an NLRB complaint remains the most ironclad chance for a federal injunction lifting the lockout, legal sources said.
Even if the NLRB charge were dropped, an election would still take 45-60 days to schedule. In the meantime, negotiations between the league and union leadership could continue. The pressure perhaps would be shifted to the owners to modify their proposals if they are serious about having the 72-game season that Stern promised Thursday night, complete with Christmas Day games and a regularly scheduled All-Star weekend, if the players approved the existing offer.
In addition to the seven major agencies that have been clamoring for decertification for months, several other previously moderate agencies have joined the movement, sources told CBSSports.com.
"They've lost me," said one of the previously moderate agents. "Three months ago, we thought this would be done. We thought people would be reasonable."
The owners' lack of significant movement on key system issues in their revised proposal, plus new, still-to-be-negotiated requests viewed by the players and agents as draconian, make the chances of players voting for the proposal -- or player reps even recommending it for a vote -- extremely unlikely, sources said.
The new proposal, one of the agents said, is "probably as bad, if not worse than the last proposal."
Union executives are bringing the 30 team player reps to New York Monday or Tuesday to evaluate the latest proposal from the league, delivered Thursday night once again with the threat that if the players rejected it, they would be faced with a worse offer. Commissioner David Stern said the latest proposal, which contains a 50-50 split of revenues, would be replaced by the so-called "reset" proposal in which players would receive 47 percent of revenues and be constrained by a flex cap with a hard team payroll ceiling and a rollback of existing contracts.
In the revised proposal, the owners made the following moves toward the players' position:
* Increase the mid-level exception for luxury tax-paying teams to three-year deals starting at $3 million, available every year. The previous proposal called for mid-level deals for tax teams to be for two years starting at $2.5 million and available every other year.
* Allow tax-payers to execute sign-and-trade transactions for the first two years of the agreement. Such trades would be banned for tax teams after that. They were completely banned for tax-payers in the prior proposal.
* Create a new, $2.5 million exception that can be used by teams that are under the cap. It would allow teams that previously only had cap space to sign a minimum salary player to offer more.
* Increase the team payroll floor (i.e. minimum team salary) to 90 percent of the cap in the third year of the deal and 85 percent in the first two years. It was 85 percent across the entire agreement in the previous proposal, and 75 percent in the prior CBA.
* Increase annual raises for Bird free agents to 6.5 percent, up from 5.5 percent in the prior proposal. Non-Bird players' annual raises remain capped at 3.5 percent, as in the previous proposal. In the prior CBA, Bird raises were capped at 10.5 percent and non-Bird at 8 percent.
* Increase qualifying offers to restricted free agents.
* Allow player options in contracts for players making less than the average league salary. In the previous proposal, player options were banned. There were no restrictions on player options in the previous CBA.
* Accept the union's proposal that each side be able to opt out of the 10-year CBA after the sixth year.
But union officials and agents were disappointed that the league did not address the so-called tax cliff, by which teams are double-penalized for barely wading above the tax line, and they disagree with the league's position that mid-level restrictions would be in place if the signing pushed the team's payroll above the tax. The players want teams to be able to use the exception as long as they are under the tax line before the signing occurs.
"We'll try in court, because it can't get worse than this," one of the formerly moderate agents said. "... The owners are selling players short on their intelligence, and they're definitely selling their representatives short."
The introduction of a series of B-list issues -- drug testing in the offseason, an age-limit of 20, and a provision that would allow teams to send players to the D-League during the first five years of their careers and make substantially less than the NBA minimum -- formed a rallying point for players and agents who formerly were open to considering the league's proposal to become unified against it. League officials said Friday that these B-list issues are not in the owners' written proposal, and that both sides agreed to "park" them to be discussed after there is agreement on the framework of the major issues.