No surprise: NBA owners lock out the players

Posted: July 01, 2011

In a move that everyone in the NBA saw coming from miles away, the league's collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight Thursday and the owners immediately locked out the players.

The lockout began at 12:01 a.m. Friday despite Thursday afternoon's three-hour meeting in New York, a session that indicated that the gap between both sides remained too large to avoid the league's first work stoppage since the 1998-99 season.

The National Basketball Players Association signaled the lockout on its website moments after it began under an article headlined: "Owners Shut It Down."

"While today's decision by the owners to lock out the players is unfortunate, our players will continue to stay focused on a fair outcome," union president Derek Fisher said on the NBPA website.

The NBA followed suit on its website with a news release that gave conditions of the lockout: ". . . players will not receive their salaries; teams will not negotiate, sign or trade player contracts; players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose . . ."

The players union went to the bargaining table Thursday without a new proposal, but it attempted to explain why its current proposal could generate savings. Neither side seemed moved enough to extend the expiring CBA past midnight.

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver explained on NBATV that the owners' labor-relations committee told the union that it was going to recommend locking out at midnight.

Union chief Billy Hunter told reporters afterward that no further talks were scheduled, but that both sides expected to reconvene in the next two to three weeks. Hunter also confirmed that the union did not anticipate needing to decertify - a move the NFL's union executed earlier this year. That means the two sides could continue bargaining throughout the summer.

Hunter said the two sides parted cordially.

"I've been anticipating this lockout for the last two or three years," Hunter told reporters. "And now it's here."

The hurdles to agreeing on a new CBA appear massive: The two sides are millions apart on average yearly salary, on revenue sharing, and on a hard salary cap vs. a soft salary cap.

Silver explained that the players' latest proposal would raise the league's average salary from approximately $5 million a year during this past season to $6 million a year in the sixth year of the new CBA, and $7 million in the seventh.

San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, present at Thursday's meeting, called that proposal "unacceptable."

NBA commissioner David Stern also ripped into the players' proposal, saying it would increase salaries during a time when reductions are needed. When asked what specifically scared him about the lockout, Stern told reporters, "I'm not scared, but I'm resigned to the potential damage to our league."

The NBA has missed game action only once: The 1998-99 season was shortened from 82 games to 50 because of a work stoppage.

This year's labor dispute is still months from threatening the 2011-12 NBA season.

With about a month of preseason needed before the start of the regular season, which begins at the end of October, most experts have pegged Oct. 1 as the drop-dead date for striking a deal without missing any NBA action.

In preparation for the lockout, 76ers coach Doug Collins and assistant coach Michael Curry flew to Los Angeles on Wednesday night to meet with players.

Collins and Curry met first on Thursday with power forward Elton Brand and then with point guard Jrue Holiday. These were the final two meetings after approximately a week of pre-lockout player meetings.

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at Follow her on Twitter


and read her blog, "Deep Sixer," on

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