Dallas Mavericks player representative Jason Terry said that if the proposal NBA commissioner David Stern delivered to the union late Thursday night is not a substantial improvement from the league's prior one, players will be prepared to walk away, even if it threatens losing the entire season.
"Our reasoning and what our strategy is, is we are trying to grow the game of basketball, and under the terms that have been presented to us, the game of basketball for us, from a players' perspective, financially, will not be growing," Terry said Friday morning during an appearance on the "Ben and Skin Show" on 103.3 FM ESPN.
"We will actually be getting rid of a class. In life and society there are three classes: There's the upper class, the middle class and lower class. And what the owners are trying to do right now, what their proposal is, get rid of the middle class so you have one or two guys on each team making 'X' and the rest of the guys crunched down at a smaller number and then no middle ground."
Terry was speaking about the proposal that he was briefed on earlier this week in New York. Terry will head back to New York on Monday or Tuesday to meet with NBPA executive director Billy Hunter, union president Derek Fisher and the rest of the league's player reps to dissect the newest proposal.
Terry said the union has seen "plenty of" bad deals proposed by the owners in the past couple of months, and "it's just not acceptable."
When asked if players will be ready to walk away from Thursday night's proposal -- which includes a 72-game schedule to start on Dec. 15 -- if it is not deemed acceptable by union leaders, Terry said: "No question."
Stern said that if this proposal is not accepted, the owners will "reset" to their far more rigid proposal from earlier in the summer, when they called for a 53/47 revenue split in the owners' favor, along with a restrictive flex salary cap and rollbacks on existing salaries.
Terry, who expressed concern for would-be rookies and players coming off their rookie seasons who might not have the financial wherewithal to withstand a prolonged lockout, as well as the arena workers whose hours are being slashed without NBA games to work, said the players simply can't be pushed into taking a bad deal.
"The proposals that have been proposed to us have not been good, not been good at all," Terry said. "For us to take a bad deal at this point as players would be not good for the game of basketball and it won't be good for the players going on into the future.
"We just don't think it's fair and it's not what has been built with the prior bargaining agreements."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.