ONTARIO, Calif. -- Playing in one of the biggest media markets in the country, Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher has received more than his fair share of questions in the past six months regarding the NBA's soon-to-expire collective bargaining agreement because of his role as president of the player's association.
Nine times out of 10, Fisher has deflected the questions, preferring to leave the talking for the negotiating table. However, after NBA commissioner David Stern's recent comments detailing how the league is seeking a reduction of player salaries by $700-800 million and the possibility of contraction, Fisher didn't keep quiet on Friday -- even if he didn't agree with Stern's methods.
"I heard about his comments and the other comments that were made regarding certain elements of the collective bargaining agreement, and some comments won't pull a comment in return," Fisher said. "Some things aren't comment-worthy."
Fisher said that the player's association and the NBA had been operating under an implicit agreement to keep the CBA conversations out of the media.
"Details of where things stand and what exactly respective sides were looking for, we were going to keep in the room and behind closed doors," Fisher said. "We don't plan to negotiate through media, through public forums. We'll continue to negotiate behind closed doors and continue to focus on resolution. There's really no need at any point to just throw out something that is not based in [the question], 'Is this something that is going to help us get a deal done?'"
Fisher admitted it is "fair to say that contraction would be on the table" but added that the suggestion of such a dramatic change by the league is purely posturing at this point with the CBA not set to expire until June 30, 2011.
"I can't speculate on what his intent with the comment was," Fisher said. "It may be accurately how he feels, but for us -- myself and my players -- we're steadfast and focused on finding resolutions and continuing to create and come up with ways that we can actually get a deal done."
If the league does, indeed, continue to talk contraction, it would put the two sides even further away from an agreement than they are now, thus making the possibility of a lockout even stronger.
"We have a responsibility to protect as many jobs as we can," Fisher said.
With more and more players around the league, including highly compensated All-Stars Chris Kaman and Rajon Rondo, telling the media about plans to save money this season as a war chest in the wake of a potential work stoppage, Fisher said the NBPA is also telling players to prepare for a lockout.
"Planning for the worst is kind of a part of our DNA," Fisher said. "At the same time, when there are potentially rare, abnormal circumstances, I think we increase the number of messages and the way we get those messages out.
"We're trying with every avenue we have to make sure players understand, actually lockout or not, to take your financial future seriously. Regardless of what next year looks like, next year isn't guaranteed for any of us. The decisions you are making now should always be based in that fact. Next year is in some ways irrelevant if you do the right things you need to do right now."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. http://twitter.com/mcten.