David Stern is a brisk, exacting businessman. He's always ahead of the curve in sports management. So neither he nor the NBA Players' Association really wants to wait for the CBA to expire (or for the playoffs to end) to have their inevitable lockout and legal pissing match.
Take it away, union:
The players' union, less than a month after receiving the latest formal proposal from the owners, is accusing the owners of negotiating in bad faith. The complaint, in part, alleges the NBA is "making harsh, inflexible, and grossly regressive 'takeaway' demands that the NBA knows are not acceptable to the Union."
The complaint further alleges the NBA is engaging in "classic 'take it or leave it' and surface bargaining" with the intent of running out the clock on the CBA, "until the NBA locks out the represented employees in order to coerce them into accepting the NBA's harsh and regressive demands."
Sources have told ESPN.com that the players were so infuriated by the owners' latest proposal, which seeks a nearly 40 percent rollback in existing contracts over three years and a hard salary cap, that the union would explore a variety of legal options before presenting another formal counterproposal.
Gilbert Arenas and Rashard Lewis will insist on their combined $40 million for the next three years, thank you. But the NBA is hemorrhaging money. Not a good combination of things.
So that leaves one guy who thinks there won't be a lockout next year. Sorry, everyone, it's Ron Artest.