A federal judge in Newark, N.J., set the stage for a probable long legal battle between the National Basketball Assn. and its players' union Thursday, rejecting requests by both sides for a quick judgment on the union's antitrust suit against the league.
District Judge Dickinson Debevoise ruled that the expiration of the union's contract did not automatically make pro basketball's college draft, right-of-first-refusal and salary cap subject to federal antitrust laws. He also refused to grant a motion by the NBA to dismiss the suit the union filed Oct. 1 without a trial.
The union, attempting to establish unrestrained free agency for its members, charged that the draft, salary cap and offer-sheet system effectively prevent NBA players from switching teams and unfairly limit their salaries.