NBA Owners: Tear Up All Current Player Contracts

The usual sniping rhetoric continues between the NBA owners and players as the July 2011 expiration of the league’s labor agreement looms. As always, negotiations will go down to the final few hours and we’ll probably end up with some manner of lockout.

Dan Gilbert

(Why is he smiling? Read on)

How long the owners shut down the league will depend on the financial desperation of individual players. Because of the typical, well-chronicled monetary mismanagement of the rank and file NBA player, the owners figure to have extraordinary leverage in whatever labor agreement ends up being struck.

It’s that enormous hammer that reportedly may create an unprecedented demand by the owners of the players.

It’s a given that NBA owners will try to limit the length and breadth of guaranteed NBA player contracts in the future. But what many don’t know is that owners want to apply those future standards to player contracts already in place.

In other words, the contracts that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh just signed - along with the pre-existing deals of all other NBA superstars - would essentially be rendered null and void if the owners get their way in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Ric Bucher of ESPN reported earlier this year:

Perhaps the biggest shocker: The owners’ proposal includes a provision that would require any pre-existing deals to be revised to conform to the new deal’s limits.

Then there’s the $45 million per team hard salary cap that the owners are reportedly set to demand. If the league is successful in pushing that through, you can forget about the Miami Heat keeping James, Wade and Bosh, who make a combined $43 million per season.

Alarming? Apparently not to the league’s elite, superstar players, none of whom will be attending next week’s labor negotiation session with owners. From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com this week:

No James, no Wade, no (Carmelo) Anthony — and no Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson or Al Horford (the other All-Stars who showed up at the February session). Wade, for example, will be in New York for Team USA appearances but doesn’t plan to attend the bargaining session.

Who will speak for the superstars? From Berger:

Theo Ratliff, Adonal Foyle, Roger Mason, Maurice Evans and Keyon Dooling — the other members of the executive committee along with union president Derek Fisher, and “middle-class” earners in the NBA’s salary structure — speak for them.

Many chuckled when Dan Gilbert guaranteed that the Cavs would win an NBA title before the Heat. But those familiar with the state of negotiations for the league’s next labor agreement weren’t laughing.

No, they were nodding.