One interesting tidbit I picked up from reading the Bulls message forum was that ESPN radio was pushing the idea that NBA players may lose their existing contracts if they decertify.
I decided to ask the salary cap expert if this was true or not and fortunately, @LarryCoon was happy to reply via twitter.
Heard a rumor that if the players decertify present contracts become non-guaranteed. Is that true?
LarryCoon wrote (over about four tweets):
The league thinks so. But as far as I can tell, they're the only ones who think so. Did NFL contracts become null & void when NFL players decertified? What is the point of decertifying & getting an injunction for the league to honor the contracts if the league can then turn around and say, "Uh, sorry....WHAT contracts?
Coon's response is interesting, because while he references the NFL, we don't really know what happened with NFL contracts when they decertified per se. The league never pushed to void them (to my knowledge) and the judges never had to rule on the decertification law suit because the sides came together.
However, I remember the judges saying that if they had the rule neither side would like the ruling. One such way the players might not like the ruling is if their contracts were wiped out. Granted, that's a huge leap there.
At any rate, I'm not certain whether the owners would really mind wiping out all existing deals or not. I think almost every team has a ton of guys whom they wouldn't pay the same rate again and many would be more than happy to renegotiate all the deals. Of course it would never come to that.
If the league decertified, we know it'd be a temporary step, because if they won the law suit and made the draft and contract limits illegal it would be the death of the NBA. As such, the league would merely have to come back to the negotiating table and convince the players to recertify with a better business offer.
In the end, there's no guarantee that decertification would overthrow the draft. It's a risk, but it appeared to be a risk with little downside. However, if there's a chance the owners could void all deals because they were negotiated under union rules then the risk in decertification now goes both ways.