Unless NBA owners suddenly decide to rescind their ultimatum and reopen negotiations (which would be similar to the pitbull biting your leg suddenly loosening its jaws because it was hurting you too badly), the NBA players have a few options to choose by Wednesday’s ultimatum:
1) Put the current ultimatum to a vote and vote yes.
The upside: The season begins. Checks start coming in the mail. “The system” stays somewhat similar to the previous system. This goddamn lockout ends. Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant do not miss a full year in the twilights of their careers. Blake Griffin dunks. My “how many pounds will Glen Davis gain during the lockout” pool can finally find its answer. We stop discussing Adam Silver and David Stern in order to debate the things that really matter, such as “When Jermaine O’Neal suffers his first injury this season, will recent free-agent acquisition Kwame Brown step up for the Celtics?”
The downside: When the players get fucked, they normally like to be taken out to dinner first. David Stern, Dan Gilbert and Paul Allen win, in a landslide. By continually offering concessions and receiving zero in return, Billy Hunter looks weaker than Tayshaun Prince’s pinky finger. We’ll soon have to watch Andray Blatche “play defense,” Nick Young’s “shot selection” and Andris Biedrins shooting free throws. If the players cave below 52%, there’s no telling how Kevin Garnett might react.
2) Put the current ultimatum to a vote and vote no.
Upside: Stern will not unleash an unbearable winning smirk — yet, at least. Dan Gilbert and Paul Allen have not won — yet, at least. There’s a chance (approximately as thin as Mike Brown’s hair, but still a chance) that Stern could be bluffing, and the owners will not immediately decrease their offer when the clock strikes ultimatum. And, um, decertification becomes a possibility? Is that a positive for players? No? Maybe? Does ANYBODY know for sure?
Downside: Stern probably isn’t bluffing. If accepting a 50% BRI split with a decent system is unacceptable, accepting a 47% split with a much harder cap surely won’t make Kendrick Perkins — or any other NBPA member, for that matter — smile. Failing to accept Stern’s offer could lead to a year or more of lost games, and remember, the 2% difference in BRI isn’t even a huge difference. At this point, the union is arguing based on principle and the future. If I’m a player, those two factors matter less and less with every pay check I miss.
3) Decline a vote on the NBA’s ultimatum and move forward into, um, what?
Upside: See option No. 2. Also, keep some integrity intact. Because that’s what this battle is about, right? Pride? Not money, or system issues, or anything like that. Because if it were solely about money and those other issues, this deal would have been wrapped up months ago. Sigh.
Downside: If the NBA rejects Stern’s offer, this lockout could go anywhere. We could get union decertification. We could see Billy Hunter file a disclaimer of intent, whatever that means. We could see a year (or more) of games lost. We could see the union lose a full season (and all the checks that go with it), then get stuck with the same deal they decided not to accept, or even a worse deal. We could see the NBA get pressured by legal threats into offering a better deal. If this lockout continues past the ultimatum, ANYTTHHHINNGGG IISSS POOSSSIBBBLLLEEEEEE.
And the winner is…
If I were an NBA player (unfortunately, because coaches don’t fall in love with 6’1 white boys who can’t jump over a grain of rice, I’m not), I would choose option No. 1: Put the current ultimatum to a vote and vote yes. . . ESPECIALLY if David Stern makes a few last-minute concessions to make the deal slightly more acceptable (or less unacceptable, rather) for the players.
It was never a question of whether the players would lose this negotiation. It was a question of how badly they would get pulverized. The owners have been hard-asses all along. They were expected to. But the players have actually held on to a little dignity. They kept a soft(-ish) cap. They still have the mid-level exception, and it’s not worth much less than it used to be. They have guaranteed contracts. They held on to 50% of the BRI split, and if the league increases revenues, which is likely, that number will increase to 51%.
Yes, the players got beat. But it could be worse, so just sign the deal. No need to risk throwing another pick-six at this point. The players need to just take a knee, run out the clock, and end this game while the score’s somewhat respectable.