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MAGISTRATE LIKELY TO MEDIATE IN NBA CASE
Fri, 25 Nov 2011 12:30 PM EST

NBPA union executive director Billy Hunter said Tuesday he expected that a Minnesota magistrate judge would be the mediator in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the NBA, the same role the court played in the NFL’s labor dispute. Basketball odds

Hunter specifically named U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, the court-appointed mediator in the NFL talks. Boylan is not the same judge that is assigned to the NBA player’s suit, although the district judge has the discretion to appoint a different magistrate to mediate.

“What may very well be is the judge there directs the magistrate, as they did in the NFLPA case, to host a settlement conference, and that could possibly occur as early as next week,” Hunter said. Basketball spreads

Two different groups of players filed two separate lawsuits in the matter in California and Minnesota last week. Attorneys for one group withdrew the California complaint earlier this week and then filed a consolidated, amended suit in Minnesota. Players’ attorney David Boies said that because the court system in California is so overloaded and initial review of the case wasn’t even scheduled until March at the earliest, the decision was made drop that suit and shift the venue to Minnesota instead.

Another reason the players’ lawyers decided to change the configuration of the suits was that the district court in Minnesota regularly uses magistrates to mediate cases. And mediating a case brings hope of something everyone involved says they want – a faster end to the labor strife instead of following through the legal proceedings to their resolution, which could take months and would definitely cancel the entire NBA season.

NBA owners locked out the players July 1 over a dispute in changes the league wants to make to the system as well as salary issues. So far games have been canceled through Dec. 15. Already one third of the season has been lost to the dispute.

The owners have already filed a lawsuit of their own in the Southern District of New York. There is a possibility that they might file a motion to have the Minnesota case moved there as well.

After negotiations broke down between the two sides, the players disbanded the union, which then allowed them to file the antitrust lawsuits. This set the stage for the increasingly bitter labor dispute to move from the negotiating table to the courtroom.

Hunter spoke Tuesday after NBPA officials and players gave out Thanksgiving turkeys to local families outside their offices in Harlem. The NBPA gave away 9,000 turkeys nationally in New York, Atlanta, Houston, Washington, Miami and New Orleans.

The Knicks’ Roger Mason Jr., a member of the NBPA board, said he wasn’t ill at ease about discussing the players’ demands right after distributing the turkeys.

“Especially during the lockout where you have two (sides) unable to get something done and there’s a lot of talk of greed—Thanksgiving season, this is a time to give back,” he said, “and I just feel like it’s important for all of us to do that.”


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