The consensus among agents and executives around the NBA is that the league is on the path toward a lockout in 2017, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Commissioner Adam Silver and other league officials are already sending out signals that they want a hard salary cap, former union executive director Charles Grantham tells Deveney. Grantham’s time atop the union preceded Billy Hunter’s 17-year run as executive director, but the players have yet to name a permanent replacement. That, too, is helping sow the seeds of a lockout, Deveney writes.
The league and the union both have options after the 2016/17 season to terminate the collective bargaining agreement struck at the end of the 2011 lockout. Most reports have indicated that the agreement will indeed come to an end that year. The league is negotiating a TV rights deal that will most likely ensure that teams continue to receive money even in the event of a lockout, which was the case in 2011. That gives the league incentive to use the lockout as a negotiating tool against the players, who have been unsuccessful in finding alternative revenue streams in the past, as Deveney explains.
Grantham worries that the players are “way behind” in preparing for talks on the next labor deal, though National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul tells Deveney that he’s not worried about the slow progress toward naming a new executive director. Still, agents feel the delay is “potentially disastrous,” Deveney writes, and they worry that players, wary of repeating the Hunter debacle, won’t give whomever they do hire the support necessary to negotiate effectively.