Blog Entry

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 1:23 pm
By Matt Moore

An ESPN report early Wednesday morning indicates that some of the NBA's most powerful agents are aggressively pushing their clients toward the nuclear option of decertification in the face of a lack of progress in the CBA talks. 
Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz and Dan Fegan -- who collectively represent nearly one-third of the league's players -- spoke Monday about the process of decertifying the union, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The agents' view is that the owners currently have most, if not all, of the leverage in these talks and that something needs to be done to turn the tide. They believe decertification will do the trick, creating uncertainty and wresting control away from the owners.

The union has been negotiating with the league for a year and a half and the owners haven't changed their stance, so the conversation the agents had was about how to work with the union to enhance its strategy," a person close to the situation said on condition of anonymity. "The feeling is that decertification is the weapon that has to be pulled out of the arsenal, that it's the most effective way to change the dynamics of the negotiations."The agents have spoken with Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players association, about the need for decertification, but he has thus far resisted their plan. He said Tuesday that the players are not yet considering decertifying.
via Sources: NBA player agents angling to get players union to decertify - ESPN.

The more interesting element regarding those specific agents is their representation makes up the exact percentage necessary to force what's called an involuntary decertification, in which 30 percent of the union signs a petition saying it supports decertification. If that's the path they take, it's a contentious power move that could have serious implications for the union and the talks.

Union head Billy Hunter has been adamant about avoiding decertification. There are conflicting theories as to the reason why Hunter hasn't pursued the aggressive legal action. Hunter claims that the objective is to avoid a prolonged legal battle which will do nothing but embitter both sides to the cause. The longer a lockout is extended, it's believed the union loses more leverage. The alternative theory is that Hunter is concerned about the possible impact on his standing with the players, and the chance that when the decertification ends and the union reforms, Hunter would not be placed back at executive director. 

Multiple reports have placed players' representatives as frustrated with Hunter's approach, believing there isn't a cohesive strategy to "bust" the union.  The ESPN report also states that a signficant number of agents are against decertification, including Happy Walters and Rob Pelinka (who represents Kobe Bryant). The result could be an internal fracture within the players' union over whether to dissolve the union. This on the heels of a five-hour negotiation Tuesday in which the owners huddled amongst themselves for three hours, in what was believed to be a sign of internal strife in the owners contingent fully forms this as a four-sided issue. Players who want decertification (or at least players whose agents want to decertify) versus those who stand with Hunter versus owners who want a resolution to the lockout versus those who want to lose the season to get every single thing they want. 

David Stern said yesterday after the talks that the internal ownership conversation centered around revenue sharing

Ken Berger of reports that yesterday's talks actually represent a move towards ending the lockout with the players agreeing to a lowered BRI split to 54.3 percent.  So now the question becomes whether the "dove" owners will be able to wrestle control from the "hawk" owners to broker a deal before the agent insurgency in the union moves towards involuntary decertification, or Hunter is forced to move there himself to consolidate his power. 

The lockout is complicated enough, with the issues and conflicting facts. And every day it becomes even more so as both sides divide amongst themselves.

Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:59 am

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Looks like it'll not get sorted to have a proper season

Since: Jun 26, 2011
Posted on: September 14, 2011 7:06 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Not a good move for these guys.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 14, 2011 6:51 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

I bet if they deducted pay for every blown call the refs would get their act together, because they would be making close to minimum wage with all the bad calls they would get penalized for.

Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: September 14, 2011 5:46 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

The NBA needs to focus on ways to improve the game. I have been a big NBA fan since I was a kid. I have really lost interest in the game now for a number of reasons:
A lot of the players are jerks, but I don't really don't care about that so much. What really has ruined the game (IMO) is all of the phantom-calls, and no-calls. The superstar treatment has got to end to make the game fair. Instant replay and challenges would drag the game out too much, so that would never work. They could have classes for the ref's to look at a game after its conclusion. They could look at every foul closely, and point out where mistakes were made. I think that would change the way games are called. If a ref called 12 fouls against a Kobe, and see that he was only fouled three of those times, the Kobe probably wouldn't get no 12 fouls the next game. They need to use the technology (replay) to at least try and improve the game by improving the refereeing.
My next big complaint is all the whining by the players. Grown men throwing tantrums and making faces like somebody just took their Binkie. It's disgusting to me. It has gotten so out of hand, that I think they should levy a Technical for a player even addressing a ref.

Until they fix the game, they are going to have problems. All of my friends who used to be fans have completely abandoned the NBA. I'm holding on, but just barely.

Since: Dec 31, 2006
Posted on: September 14, 2011 5:08 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Basketball is entertainment.  From this fans point of view, the proceedings of the lockout are more exciting and dramatic than the league itself.  I am all for anything that stirs the pot more.  It is also interesting to see how the judicial system reacts to "nonessential" type businesses.  I think it illustrates what the spotlight does to the system, and how judges are clearly bias and irrational when it comes to shining the spotlight on them.  IMO any suits/legal proceedings brought by entertainers should have the lowest possible priority.  That is the only reason the Agents want to decertify, is to seek legal refuge.  If they got wind that the case was scheduled for say Nov 15 2018, I think things would move along.  As it is let it play out.  We already know who will be in the playoffs anyway.

Since: Jul 18, 2009
Posted on: September 14, 2011 4:37 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Wow.  This article is missing a KEY piece of information here.  By DECERTIFYING THE UNION, all GUARANTEED CONTRACTS are null and void.  Do you honestly think that guys like LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, etc.......  are going to risk their guaranteed money in hopes of getting a greater share for the guys making the league minimum?  No chance.  Their agents will not allow it either.  It worked for the NFL players because there are no guaranteed contracts, thus they had little to lose.

The owners would welcome a decertification -- almost a billion dollars off the books......   LET'S DO IT!

C'mon Matt - you are a better reporter than this.........  you can't write a decertification article without saying what the implecations would be for each side. 

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: September 14, 2011 3:44 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

NBA should have been watching the NFL CBA not out golfing. Decertifying the Union will have no effect unless they are in a different juristiction and even then they may look ay precidence.

Since: Feb 2, 2008
Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:11 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

<span style="color: #005151;">It certainly worked for thw NFLPA didn't it...

Since: Apr 6, 2007
Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:42 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Wasn't anyone paying attention to the NFL lockout.  Do the NBA agents suppose that their legal team can argue a better case than the NFLPA?

The superstar players don't need agents as much as the NFL anyway with the whole max contract stuff.  The agents are just stirring the pot so they can get more money.  The players need to tell their agents to back off and remind them that the agents work for the players and not vice versa. 

Since: Oct 17, 2008
Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:25 pm

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

Decertifying solves what?  So by decertifying you nolonger call yourself a united group but yet those same individuals are doing the negoiating.  The only people that get hurt in this bull crap over money is the fans and players #13-15 who are making league minimal or a little above.  Who helps these players meet there financial obligations when the checks stops.  The Kobe's/James/Garnett/Melo/Wade/Dirks of the NBA will be fine without a few months of pay.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or