Larry Fleisher, counsel for the NBA Players Association, yesterday accused league teams of attempting to get around their landmark bargaining agreement with the players by refusing to negotiate seriously with some 50 free agents.
Fleisher said that if more free agents are not signed within the next two weeks, the players association will consider taking the NBA to court.
Officials of six NBA teams contacted yesterday denied Fleisher's charge.
Only three of 53 free agents have signed contracts, in the six weeks since the players were given their free agent status. This is the first year that players could become free agents under the so-called "Robertson Agreement" between the NBA and the players association that has served as a model for other leagues.
Fleisher called the lack of signings "incredible." He said from his New York office that he was "disgusted and annoyed" at what is going on.
"They don't want to live up to the agreement," he said. "They don't like it so they aren't exercising their right to sign these players."
"We will give them another two weeks or so and see what happens. The courts are reasonable. If they see that there are 50 free agents around and none are being signed, they might listen to us when we complain about it."
Fleisher said that he is holding off for now "because with (Jamaal, Wilkes signing with the Lakers, I hope that will lead to more movement. Maybe that will get everyone going and we'll see more signings."
The only free agents to sign so far are Leonard Robinson, who left Atlanta for New Orleans. Wilkes, who left Golden State for the Lakers, and Randy Smith, who signed with his old team, Buffalo.
It was announced yesterday, after Fleisher was interviewed, that free agent Glenn Hansen of the Kansas City Kings had signed with the New Orleans Jazz, with an undisclosed draft choice going to the Kings.
Big-name free agents still unsigned include Sidney Wicks of Boston, Geoff Petrie of Atlanta, Gus Williams of Golden State and jim Cleamons of Cleveland. Pete Maravich considers himself a free agent, although New Orleans disputes that claim.
NBA general managers contacted yesterday scoffed at Fleisher's charges.
"If there is some sort of agreement or conspiracy among the clubs, we haven't been told about it," said Bill Fitch of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I hope Fleisher takes this one to court. He hasn't lost enough court cases, but this one I know he'll lose. There are valid reasons why the free agents haven't signed, but a conspiracy isn't one of them.
"Fleisher represents 14 of those free agents, but I haven't got one call from him about any of them. These guys have to get on the phone and do some work if they want their players to get signed. All he has to do is make 14 phone calls times 22 teams. What does that equal?"
The general managers say that two major reasons are holding up more free agent signings: compensation and money.