Law & OrderNBA: Union Rejects Deal, Will Move to Dissolve

Law & OrderNBA: Union Rejects Deal, Will Move to Dissolve

The last time the NBA had a work stoppage, the deal to resume play wasn't struck until January of that year—a full three months into what would have been the normal season. As the date currently reads November 14, it remains early to go into full-on panic mode.

Wait, you mean the union actually wants to decertify?

Alright, nevermind. Forget it. We're all screwed.

If you were wondering what exactly defined "worst case scenario" when it comes to the NBA's ongoing lockout...well, here you go. This is honestly like the NFL's bastard little brother of labor strife. Whereas the NFLPA filed for legal relief even before their CBA expired and the league as a whole resolved its labor dispute after just 136 days, the NBA players are opting to file suit on day No. 137 of their own lockout. See, we're hitting a lot of the same notes, but at literally all of the wrong times.

Since we last left you with the idea that the clock was ticking down on the players' opportunity to keep these negotiations working in their financial favor, the union has rejected two consecutive proposals from the owners and is now, believe it or not, moving to dissolve itself.

The abandonment of its status as a union no longer makes the negotiations a collective bargaining dispute, and, instead, potentially makes the lockout a legitimate illegality. Once the union officially disbands, it will move to take legal action against the league—the benefit and, really, entire point of decertification in the first place.

The idea, in the minds of the players, is that the NBA is in violation of federal anti-trust law. The probable counter, in the minds of the owners, is that the players are now negotiating in bad faith and that their decertification is an unfair bargaining tactic that should summarily dismissed as such.

Which side is right? Well, neither really. All four major sporting leagues are in clear and flagrant violation of federal anti-trust laws, but have never been taken to task for it. The courts simply look the other way and more or less consider the leagues as special entities that—for reasons that are never fully stipulated—fall outside the scope of the legislation on the books.

Knowing this exemption is rather bewildering and potentially tenuous, the players are hoping to the blackmail the owners into a deal that's more to the former's liking before a court could ever rule on the league's legal status.

This, as you might unsurprised to hear, would take an absurdly long time to ever reach a definitive end. More than anything, the players have just made the proceedings even more bitter than before by walking away and opening up a lawsuit.

Whoever their legal team is should have hopefully advised the players that this maneuver will have very little effect on how the CBA ultimately settles. The lawyers will do their best to once again show that a professional sporting entity is in indisputable violation of the law. But that claim will once again be disputed. And the result will be appealed. And appealed again. And possibly remanded at some point. Then possibly appealed again. And, all the while, we will not have basketball.

Decertification is a tactic—not an end. It serves a purpose, but it will not get the players back on the floor any faster, unless both parties realize that the threat of a legal ruling is greater than whatever feelings are hurt via compromise. Indeed, if they perceive the move to the courts to be anything less than a tactic—i.e. a legitimate resolution to the lockout—then you can kiss the season goodbye.

Now, when I wrote up top that "we're all screwed," it was intended to convey that a solely legal course would indeed doom the season. That said, there's nothing that prevents the sides from continuing to negotiate. Indeed, this extra ax swinging over their heads might even result in a fairer and quicker deal. So, it isn't over. It shouldn't be over. Nothing about what happened today dictates that it's over. Now, we just have to hope that both sides are actually of that same mindset.

For the record, I know "most of you" really "don't care" about all of this, but there's like seven of us who are still into the NBA; so, you'll have to pardon me for—in no way forcibly—interrupting your lives with these occasional updates. If it makes you any happier, the prospect of even discussing this matter as related to antitrust action has me "listening to The Cure a lot."

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

Doug Pederson said this week he’s so concerned about Ryan Mathews’ late-game fumbling problem that he’ll consider using a different running back in crucial late-game situations (see story).

If Mathews is concerned about it, he’s not letting on.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said at his locker on Thursday. “Worrying about stuff like that just causes more stress.

“I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is trying to give him 100 percent every time I touch the ball and trying to get better.”

Mathews likely cost the Eagles a win over the Lions with his late fumble in Detroit three weeks ago. Last week, he lost another fumble in the final minutes of the Eagles’ win over the Vikings.

He’s the first back with two fumbles in the final five minutes of two games in the same season since Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants in 2010.

He has single-handedly accounted for two of the three fumbles by NFL running backs in the last five minutes of games this year.

Pederson on Wednesday said, “By no means am I down on Ryan,” but also said he would consider using Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles in late-game situations moving forward.

Mathews is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on a team-high 11 carries per game.

He said Thursday he has to learn not to fight for extra yards when the situation calls mainly for ball protection.

“You can’t fight for more yards, you’ve just got to go down,” he said. “Don’t put the ball on the ground.

“There’s no secret cure or anything like that. You’ve just got to get what you can get and get down. You can’t really fight for more yards like that.”

Mathews said it’s difficult for him to ramp down his natural aggressiveness in situations that call for him to be more conservative and protect the ball instead of trying to fight for extra yards.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I’m not the one to really shy away from not going down on first contact. But situations like that, you’ve just got to be more aware.”

Sproles (4.6 average on 31 carries), Smallwood (4.1 average on 28 carries) and Kenjon Barner (5.8 average on 16 carries) all have higher rushing averages than Mathews.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he’s not concerned about Mathews and said his confidence in the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler hasn’t waned.

“I love our guys,” Reich said. “I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. We use a word around here a lot, and I know sometimes it gets thrown around, but it's family.

“You know, not every family's perfect, and we all make mistakes, but when we put guys out on the field (we’re confident in them). I can't play like that. I can't coach like that. You've got to have confidence.

“Now with coaches, it’s a business and coaches make decisions based on things. And when those decisions get made, they get made. But when a guy is in the game, we have to play with confidence and we have to coach with confidence and I don't see any other way to do it.”