We still have a few more years before the risk of another NBA lockout rears its head, but some are already worrying the league's collective bargaining agreement could hit a snag.
Not NBA commissioner Adam Silver—at least not publicly.
According to the Associated Press' Brian Mahoney, "Adam Silver said Thursday he has 'no expectation' that players will opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in 2017, potentially leading to another lockout."
Per Mahoney, Silver also said:
I think it's premature, frankly, for either side to be making determinations about how well this deal has or hasn't worked, and I think especially given that their leader hasn't even been installed yet, which is something that they of course are freely acknowledging. So I don't really buy into sort of that speculation that they're already planning to opt out or that we're thinking about it.
According to the 2011 agreement's official press release, "both the NBA and NBPA holding the ability to opt out after the sixth year."
Silver's cautioning almost certainly won't stop speculation that's already begun. Though the league will naturally look to project a sense of stability, the reality is likely that owners and players alike came out of the last lockout licking wounds and unhappy about various compromises.
In March, the Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported that, "the consensus among league executives and prominent agents" was that "the groundwork is already being laid for another lockout."
NBC Sports' Kurt Helin similarly suggested, "If you ask league executives, pretty much everyone expects a 2017 lockout."
So Silver's assurances probably shouldn't be taken as gospel so much as an attempt to assuage public relations concerns. It probably wouldn't be very productive to suggest there's something so wrong with the current CBA that a lockout is inevitable. Nor would he want to intimate anything unsavory about the Players Association's state of affairs.
Besides, Silver was primarily suggesting that he didn't believe the players will opt out. That's not necessarily the primary concern according to Bleacher Report's Joe Flynn:
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.
At the moment, the Players Association is in some measure of disarray. Executive director Billy Hunter got the boot in February, and the search for a replacement is ongoing. In the meantime, Ron Klempner is heading up the union.
Once the union finds a replacement, there's little doubt it will begin planning for 2017. There are countless discussions to be had centering around assessment of the current CBA and how it could be reformed to better promote player interests.
Owners have already begun that process. They'll continue to press for more revenue. As Helin put it, "when did you ever know a rich business owner to say 'we’re doing well enough now, let’s spread the wealth around'?"