Billy Hunter Is Preparing NBA Players for a Lockout

February 25, 2011 – 10:50 am by Chris Fedor

Right now the NBA is extremely popular. The game is loaded with a lot of bright, young stars, there are a number of teams that continue to capture national headlines, and there are rivalries that are starting to pick up steam. However, just like the NFL, the NBA is about to enter a period of uncertainty in their game. With no new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place and many pressing issues that are expected to be discussed like the likelihood of a hard cap and maybe even a franchise tag like the NFL to try and keep all the stars from joining forces like Miami, Billy Hunter, the Executive Director of the Players Association makes it sound like things are starting to look bleak for a league that is at the height of its popularity.

Billy Hunter joined ESPN Radio in New York on the Stephen A. Smith Show to talk about how much the lack of a Collective Bargaining Agreement played into all the trades, what it is that the owners don’t like about the current CBA, if the owners want a hard cap, whether or not there will be a franchise tag in place, and if he thinks there will be a lockout in 2011.

How much of a factor the lack of a new CBA had on all the deals in the NBA:

“I don’t think it had anything to do with it. I think this is something that traditionally happens this time of year and if you actually look at each of the deals and examine them they were not motivated by anything that may occur Collective Bargaining wise. I think little or no impact. I think teams historically this time of year everybody is kinda trying to clear cap room depending on what their ambitions are going into next season.”

If they want to change a lot of things in the current CBA:

“People can throw out anything they want and it tends to be a lot of hysteria on the side of management, where they think it’s going to be some kind of seismic shift and I can assure you from our position that’s just not going to happen. We don’t mind tweaking here and there, but I don’t anticipate any major changes. Absent some complete cave by our players and as of this moment that’s not the indication.”

If he feels the owners don’t like that teams are losing revenue:

“What they don’t like about the deal is that they don’t like the split in revenue. This deal has been in place for 12 years with no complaint. Now all of  a sudden there’s a problem with the deal. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the league is growing, the league is expanding into places like China, India, and South America, and NBA basketball is the epitome of what every basketball league should be like. Everybody wants to be like the NBA so we don’t see it that way. As a matter of fact in the discussions we’ve had they’ve indicated the demand would be the same even if they weren’t losing any money. We argue that we don’t necessarily agree with the number or the interpretation of the numbers.”

Whether or not he thinks there will be a hard cap:

“That’s what they’re saying they want and that’s been their position. They haven’t changed it and we haven’t changed our position. That’s a non-starter.”

Whether or not he believes you have to have multiple stars now to compete (which led to questioning about a franchise tag in the NBA):

“That hasn’t come up although I did in reviewing David Stern’s comment during All-Star weekend, he indicated it’s not currently on the table but that we plan to sit down and have discussions and may very well surface. I’m quoting him. I may anticipate that they may put it out there. I’ve agreed to discuss everything but discussion does not necessarily mean agree with. We can talk about everything, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to agree about it.”

If he thinks there will be a lockout:

“I do. Although I would think in the face of all the success the league is having it almost bodes on lunacy for us to not be able to reach a deal.”

On if the lockout will extend into the season if there is one:

“What the owners and the Commissioner said to me is if they enter into a lockout they intend to lockout for the year. So if that’s true then it could very well be. I’m preparing that if in fact they impose a lockout I’ve instructed my players it could go as long as a year. That’s what we’re making preparations for.”

Listen to Billy Hunter on ESPN Radio New York here

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