NEW YORK (AP) — NBA Commissioner 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.
The 10-year deal the league and players agreed to that ended the 2011 lockout gave either side the right to opt out after six years.
With the league projecting financial growth, there has been speculation that players will take that option in three years, especially since a new national TV contract will be in place by then.
But Silver told a gathering of Associated Press Sports Editors that it was too soon to consider that.
“We’ll always be prepared, but I have no expectation that they’re going to opt out. I mean, we haven’t had any discussions whatsoever about that possibility,” Silver 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.”
The 2011 deal cut the players’ guarantee of basketball revenues from 57 percent to 50, saving owners hundreds of millions in salary costs. They have seen the benefit, with sales of franchises soaring, though Silver said there are still eight teams that aren’t profitable.
The league sought a 10-year deal, much longer than players wanted, so the compromise was reached to allow either side to terminate it early.
“Our league’s recently reported economic successes come as no surprise to the players,” NBPA acting executive director Ron Klempner said in an email. “That being said, we negotiated for the right to opt out of the CBA, and just as the owners will do, the players will consider our options at the appropriate time. It’s way too early to commit to any decision one way or the other.”
The players are still seeking a replacement for former executive director Billy Hunter, who was ousted last February. They said recently they expect to hire one by the start of next season.
Meanwhile, owners met in New York last week and got an update on the CBA through what could be its midway point.
“We presented sort of the facts as we know them so far under this agreement,” Silver said. “Is it working in ways we predicted, here are things that we would not have predicted under the agreement, here’s the amount of free agency movement we’re seeing, here’s how it’s working economically for the league. And I would assume the union at some point will do those same things.”