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Lakers' Derek Fisher moves to forefront as president of NBA players' union

Lakers point guard realizes the stakes are high as he shifts gears to lead NBA Players' Assn. in collective bargaining with owners. With a potential lockout looming July 1, the sides appear far apart.

May 10, 2011|By Broderick Turner
  • Lakers guard Derek Fisher is hoping he can help the NBA Players Assn. negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the league's owners this summer.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher is hoping he can help the NBA Players Assn. negotiate… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Derek Fisher now will go from point guard for the Lakers to point man for about 430 players, hoping that in his role as president of the NBA Players' Assn., he can help negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement with league owners.

Fisher said the union wasn't happy with the last proposal received from owners about week ago.

"Frankly, we're disappointed in the context of it," Fisher said after his exit interview Tuesday with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and General Manager Mitch Kupchak. "We're still full steam ahead in trying to get this thing figured out and get a deal done."

The owners presented the players with their second offer in which they seek significant rollbacks in existing contracts, a hard salary cap and a larger share of the basketball-related income. Under the current agreement, the players are guaranteed 57% of income.

The labor agreement expires June 30, and if a new deal isn't in place by then, the players will be locked out July 1.

Fisher said he's "hopeful and optimistic" that an agreement can be reached. But he's not sure when.

"There's a lot at stake," he said. "I think both sides, as bad as we want to get a deal done, we're still going to be very careful about how we proceed with these matters.

"As much as the NBA speaks about the future of the game and trying to protect the game itself, that's a priority of ours as well. . . . The goal is to get a deal done and not necessarily rush through it, but to try and get something done that will sustain us for the next several years to come."

The players are willing to give ground on the 57% guarantee, but they want to keep most parts of the current deal.

Fisher said they are closely monitoring the NFL lockout.

"So I think it's only prudent for the league as well as for us as a players' association to carefully watch those proceedings," Fisher said. "But at the end of the day, you still have to come back to what do you have. What's in place? What we have is an unbelievable game full of unbelievable players.

"People have continued to support this game over the last few years in ways that you can't compare to any other time in pro basketball. I think the fans have spoken, obviously. They want to see NBA basketball. The numbers speak for themselves and so we're going to try and do everything that we can to make sure that they continue to see NBA basketball."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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