The NBA meandered ever so slightly closer to resolving its five-month-long work stoppage Tuesday, with its players consolidating two class-action anti-trust suits against league owners.
The suits, which had been filed a week ago in California and Minnesota, have been consolidated in Minnesota, with the players hoping to get a more favorable and faster result, lawyer David Boeis says.
Unable to agree to revenue sharing terms on a new collective bargaining agreement with National Basketball Association owners, the NBA Players Union last week decertified itself. That move freed some of its high-profile players — Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash, among them — to sue the league, alleging unfair bargaining practices.
It was a move National Football League players used effectively earlier this year to solve their collective-bargaining issues.
"In virtually every bargaining session between August 2009 and June 2011, commissioner [David] Stern and the NBA repeated the same basic demand: that the players accept a far more restrictive salary cap and a severe cut in player wages from the 57 percent of basketball-related income that the players had been guaranteed each year under the 2005 collective-bargaining agreement," reads the newly combined complaint, which was obtained by TheWrap.
Owners have argued that the majority of the NBA's 30 teams are in the red, and that new revenue-sharing arrangements and salary caps must be employed to better re-distribute the league's wealth.
With NBA teams individually signing lucrative regional sports cable-network deals — the L.A. Lakers, for example, will receive up to $3 billion over the next 20 years from Time Warner — the players aren't exactly buying the argument.
In the suit, players allege that the NBA has a monopoly on professional basketball in the U.S. and has "combined and conspired to eliminate such competition among themselves for NBA players through group boycotts, concerted refusals to deal, and agreements on restricting output and fixing prices.
"Defendants have accomplished their anti-competitive objective by jointly adopting and imposing a group boycott following the players’ disclaimer of collective bargaining," the suit continues. "These actions have the purpose and effect of preventing players from offering their services to NBA teams in a competitive market and of preventing players from earning a living as major league professional basketball players in the United States. "
If a deal isn't reached by Friday, the NBA season's Christmas games would be cancelled.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.