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Top NBA agents urge players to 'refuse' unfair labor deal

October 3, 2011 | 10:32 pm


Some of the leading agents representing NBA players crafted a letter to dozens of their clients, urging them to "participate in the process" and stand firm to avoid further concessions beyond those already made by the National Basketball Players Assn.

The letter, obtained by The Times on Monday, was distributed to players linked to agents including Arn Tellem, Dan Fegan and Bill Duffy of Los Angeles as well as Leon Rose.

"The NBA seeks unprecedented and unjustified changes to the collective bargaining agreement," the agents wrote in the letter. "Do not acknowledge 'scare tactics' and fight to achieve your goals. You fought your entire life to reach the NBA and must not let your right to receive fair compensation [to] be taken from you now."

The agents stressed the importance of not accepting any further reduction of basketball-related income, or BRI, which the union has agreed to trim from 57% in 2010 (an estimated $2.15 billion or more in player salary) to 53%.

The agents also want the players to retain salary-cap exceptions for mid-level (one player signed for the average NBA salary) and "Larry Bird" players (re-signed veteran free agents) while holding firm to keep maximum salary and standard contract length.

"Remember, it is not about when or how fast a deal is reached, it is about taking the time to secure the best deal," the agents wrote.

Tuesday is expected to be a pivotal day in NBA labor talks, as the owner-imposed lockout moves toward its 100th day, and the exhibition season appears to be in deep jeopardy of being cancelled. The regular season openers on Nov. 1 could be scratched later this week.

One basketball official involved in the talks but not permitted to speak publicly about negotiations said late Monday, "The parties are still very far apart, so I would not be too optimistic."

--Lance Pugmire

Photo: Derek Fisher, president of the players' union, addresses the media after a negotiation session last week while surrounded by star players such as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce of the Celtics (back left) and Baron Davis of the Cavaliers (right). Credit: Michael Cohen / Getty Images