Jared Dudley has attended the bargaining meetings, reviewed the proposals and stayed in the loop during these labor talks. As the primary player representative for the Phoenix Suns, Dudley is involved in these negotiations and sharing whatever information he gleans with his teammates.
Throughout this process, Dudley insists that the owners haven’t been willing to make any compromises, which has led to this current stalemate. Rather than negotiating, Dudley feels that the owners are simply waiting this out in hopes that the players eventually come around and accept their proposal.
“There’s no negotiating,” Dudley told HOOPSWORLD. “Until the owners are willing to negotiate, we’re going to be locked out. The reason that the players have to do this is because if we took their deal, it would be the worst deal that any players association has ever accepted – not only in basketball, but in baseball, football and hockey as well.”
“They don’t want any guaranteed deals. They want to have a hard cap. They want the highest paid player to make $13 million, when Kobe Bryant is supposed to make $25 million next season. They want to move our revenue sharing from 57 percent to 47 percent. They want to guarantee that every owner makes a profit of at least $10 million each year, no matter what. That’s the biggest one. Even if the owner hires a terrible general manager and doesn’t run the team well, they will still gain a profit. You can’t have that. You really can’t have that because there has to be consequences for every action. If you were a bad writer and interviewed the wrong people, you would get fired from your job. There has to be consequences,” Dudley added.
Dudley and his peers are adamant that they won’t accept this latest proposal. In fact, they would opt to miss multiple seasons before giving in to the deal that the owners have put on the table.
“If they refuse to change their views, we would lock out the whole year, maybe even two years,” Dudley said. “That would be better for players than agreeing to their deal.”
“My contract would be cut back 40 percent under their new deal,” he added. “Every contract that has already been signed would be different. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have signed contracts, but their deal would be rolled back 40 percent. Players can’t accept that. We might as well just forfeit the season because losing 40 percent of my whole deal is more than one year of my contract.”
Many have wondered if players will be able to hold their position once they start missing games and paychecks. Dudley believes that players are financially ready for this lockout, and credits the union for preparing everyone well in advance of the work stoppage.
“Since I’ve been in the league, which is four years, they’ve been letting me know that there would most likely be a lockout,” Dudley said. “They made it clear three or four years ago that the owners were preparing for this. The players association has held eight percent of every player’s contract and they’ll be giving that to every player in August to help them. Whatever money that a player made in their deal, they’ll get eight percent of that back so even if players have spent their money, they’ll be alright.”
However, if certain players aren’t alright, Dudley has no remorse for them. They’ll have nobody to blame but themselves because they’ve had plenty of time to prepare.
“If a player isn’t ready now, then they’ll never be ready for life after basketball,” Dudley said. “If you had four years in advance to save your money and you didn’t, then you deserve to be broke. You deserve to have problems.”
Dudley doesn’t have to worry about financial problems anytime soon because he signed a five-year, $22.5 million extension with the Suns in November. While he believes he could’ve gotten more had he become a free agent, he didn’t want to test the market with a lockout looming and preferred the additional security that comes with signing midseason.
“I knew [free agency] would be a huge problem so I basically took less for more of a guarantee,” Dudley said. “Even though I potentially could have gotten more money, there was also a chance that I could have lost that money. I didn’t want to put myself in a predicament where I had an injury or a freak accident. I wanted to make sure that I was in a position where I could make sure my family was taken care of for the rest of our lives.”
However, Dudley may end up signing a contract this summer after all: If the lockout isn’t resolved in the next several months, he will likely sign with a Chinese team.
“It would definitely become an option if they canceled the season,” Dudley said. “I’m expecting to miss some games, but I’m also expecting to have a NBA season. If December or January comes around and we’re still locked out, I would probably go to China for three or four months and make some money. I don’t know if I would go anywhere else. China’s seasons are shorter and it would be a really cool experience.”
In the meantime, Dudley will be training at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. He signed a two-month lease for August and September, and is determined to bulk up this offseason.
“I’m in the weight room a lot more this year,” he said. “I’ve already lifted more times this summer than I did the last two summers combined. I’m just trying to get stronger. I’m also working on shooting when coming off of screens and one-dribble pull-ups. I’m trying to make those more consistent because they’re really big for the Phoenix Suns, if you look at what we’re trying to do. I’m making sure I’m in tip-top shape and trying to get stronger.”
When he’s not lifting weights or listening in on the bargaining meetings, he’ll be keeping his fans in the know. Dudley is one of the most interactive and accessible professional athletes, and promises to stay connected with his fans during the lockout.
“I try to give updates,” Dudley said. “Whenever Billy Hunter updates me, I try to put it out there unless it’s related to negotiations or something that I can’t talk about. I’ll definitely keep people up-to-date on my workouts and what’s going on with the lockout.”
For more updates from Jared Dudley, follow him on Twitter at @JaredDudley619.