Hey, NBA fans, did you enjoy the 2011 lockout? How about the 1999 version? Well, then, you're in luck, because The Lockout, like every other entertainment blockbuster, might be headed for a trilogy.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, league executives and player agents are already expecting yet another lockout as soon as the summer of 2017, when either party can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement.
For those fans who have forgotten (or purposely blocked the horrible memory), the last CBA was ratified in December 2011, after what should have been the start of the 2011-12 season. The league played an abbreviated schedule starting on Dec. 25.
While either party can opt out in 2017, the consensus view is that it is ownership and not the players who will do so. Why would the owners set the league on the path to yet another work stoppage? Because they spanked the players union in their last two negotiations, and there's no reason to think they can't do it again.
The union is still in disarray after the dismissal of former executive director Billy Hunter by unanimous vote last year. The disgraced Hunter then went on the warpath, accusing former union president Derek Fisher of entering into secret negotiations with ownership and filing a wrongful termination suit. The suit was dismissed in January, per B/R's Howard Beck.
The union still hasn't named a replacement for the incompetent Hunter, which prompted Grantland's netw3rk to imagine a future CBA negotiation headed by nobody:
Upside of the players union not having an exec. director by next lockout is we find out if Billy Hunter was literally better than nothing.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) March 6, 2014
These management problems in the union have only fueled the fears of an eventual lockout, according to former executive director Charles Grantham.
Ideally, whether labor or management, you begin work on the next negotiation the day after you sign the last agreement. For the players, they have not been able to do that. They still need to find a director, and once they have one, they need to assemble a team and work on a strategy. They’re way behind.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the owners are licking their chops at the prospect of tangling with the union in 2017. They still get a chunk of the league's TV deal, even in the event of a lockout, so their losses are greatly mitigated.
What will the owners fight for in 2017? According to Deveney, Grantham said that new commissioner Adam Silver has already put forth the idea of instituting a hard salary cap and raising the age minimum to 20 years old. If that's what the owners want, that is what they're likely to get.