NBA players rejected David Stern's latest offer, a day in advance of the Nov. 9 artificial ultimatum that the Commissioner's set as a point after which offers would only get worse, in essence calling Stern's bluff.
"The players are clearly of the mind that it's an unacceptable proposal," union executive director Billy Hunter said. "But because of their commitment to the game and their desire to play, they're saying to us that we want you to go back, see if you can go back, get a better deal."
With the rejection of the deal, focus is likely to turn to whether the players will proceed to decertifying the union. And Minnesota Timberwolves forward union representative Anthony Tolliver said that the players are split on that issue.
"Pretty much everything is split," he said on his way to the airport after playing in a charity game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. "Half of the people want to decertify. Half the people want to vote on it."
The players' association president Derek Fisher does not see a way of getting a deal done between now and end of business Wednesday, and hopes to meet with Stern soon.
The union did not conduct a formal vote of the players assembled in the room Tuesday, but sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the group reached more of an informal "everyone agrees" position that authorizes Hunter and Fisher to accept a 50-50 split of basketball-related income in future negotiations as long as the league makes some concessions on certain system issues.