But one team executive told Newsday yesterday that owners are worried about the economic downturn and might be inclined to let the current collective-bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association lapse after the 2010-11 season rather than extend it one more year.Players have a good deal right now -- better than NFL players, but not as carefree as the one ruling MLB. But the 2005 deal which narrowly averted a lockout (the agreement was struck so close to the start of the free agency period in July that free agency was delayed 11 days) was a win for the owners. Max contract lengths shrunk, and the league got its way on the minimum age requirement. The players represent a tight ship, and the union isn't going to accede to any owner requests off the top.
That executive said only "five to seven" NBA teams are profitable and raised the possibility of a lockout in 2011 if teams face more strain than Stern predicted. "You're going to have owners pushing for a better deal," said the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This is one of the years the NBA is worried that overall revenues may be a little bit down."
This owner quoted by Berger might be a rogue, a talker who wants to push his brethren to fight for more money. Or the feelings of despair could be building among the ranks. I hope the fraternity of executives, however, takes a look at the NHL's current TV contract before they start breathing the word "lockout" in public. Any NBA work stoppage in the near future will undo all the good the teams, the players, and David Stern has done to rebuild the game the last four years.