NBA Commissioner David Stern blamed "greedy" agents on Saturday for trying to scuttle a new labour deal with NBA players and believes they are trying to push their clients into a "losing strategy" of disbanding their union.
Stern said neither the threat of decertification nor any request from the players' union will change the league's negotiating position, repeating there would be no further discussions about the revised proposal it offered on Thursday.
Stern said he fears the players aren't getting the proper information about the contents of the proposal because NBA agents are worried it will cost themselves money.
"By some combination of mendacity and greed, the agents who are looking out for themselves rather than their clients are trying to scuttle the deal," Stern said in a phone interview. "They're engaged in what appears to be an orchestrated Twitter campaign and a series of interviews that are designed to deny the economic realities of the proposal."
Player representatives will meet on Monday to decide if they should put the latest proposal to a vote. The indication on Thursday from union leaders was that they weren't impressed with it, and a number of players have since been quoted saying they would shoot down the deal.
Stern said that's because the agents want them to, not because it's a bad offer.
"No one talks about the rise in compensation under the deal, no one talks about the amount of money being spent," Stern said. "I just think that the players aren't getting the information, the true information from their agents, who are banding together, sort of the coalition of the greedy and the mendacious, to do whatever they can not to have fewer opportunities for the agents to make money."
The revised proposal, though still far short of what the players had in the former collective bargaining agreement, offered some improvements over the one players said Tuesday they would reject. It increased the "mini" midlevel exception for teams over the luxury tax to $3 million annually for three years, allowed taxpayers to take part in sign-and-trades for the first two years, and added another midlevel for teams under the salary cap.
Owners are also calling for a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, which the players would consider if they get the concessions they seek on the system.
But the revised proposal still may not be good enough, and players are already discussing decertifying the union so they can file an antitrust lawsuit against the league instead.
Stern said that would not give the players they leverage they seek because it's a lengthy process. It would also likely kill any hopes for a 2011-12 season, he said.
"Yes, I am worried," Stern said, "because they're talking up this thing called decertification which is not a winning strategy on the one hand. On the second hand, it'll take three months to teach them it's not a winning strategy, which would not augur well for the season."
Stern again said there would be no further discussion about the revised proposal. Should players reject it, the next proposal calls for a 53-47 revenue split in favor of the owners, a flex cap with a hard ceiling and salary rollbacks.
Stern said the proposal was delivered to the union on Friday. Union leaders have been criticized for not getting the details of it out to players in time to prepare them for an educated vote.
"They say they are done negotiating. If we really are at that point, the players need to see exactly what is on the table - not the Internet, not Twitter - and see exactly in writing, this is the proposal," one agent said.
Should players accept the deal, a 72-game season would start December 15.