BOSTON, JUNE 10 -- The moratorium between the NBA Players Association and the negotiating committee for the league owners has left NBA executives scrambling a bit to figure out all the ramifications.
The joint agreement announced here on Tuesday by NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBAPA General Counsel Larry Fleisher says that between June 17 and Oct. 1, no player selected in the June 22 draft can be signed and no current free agent will be able to sign with a new team. The decision in effect gives each side a means of protecting itself against the other when the current basic agreement expires at the conclusion of the playoffs.
"The rules have changed and it'll have some effect," said Washington Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry, who has a reputation as one of the NBA's top wheeler-dealers and may be more hamstrung than other executives.
"It hinders the possiblity of what you can do with picks and trades," he said. "It puts limitations on you; if the problem is getting a free agent signed, you can't do it, and then that makes it hard to make a deal for something else."
What the players association gets is a way of ensuring that its current free agents will have an opportunity to benefit from any changes a new collective bargaining agreement might present, such as the elimination of the right of first refusal clause.
The NBA does not want to give up the right of first refusal, a provision that allows one organization to match the financial package offered to any of its free agents by another team. The agreement protects the league against the possibility of a lawsuit from the players union.
Before negotiations on a new agreement even began in February, Fleisher had suggested that there could be no June draft unless there was a new agreement. He also spoke of filing suit to prohibit it from taking place.
"Fleisher is trying to stop everyone from signing free agents until he can figure out how it's gonna be," said Ferry. "The league was faced with an injunction against the draft; even though it would have eventually won, it could have dragged on for a long time, and bad feelings might have festered."
There is nothing prohibiting the two sides from coming up with a new agreement within the parameters of the moratorium. Until that happens, however, the decision likely will produce a virtual stoppage of trade and free agent activity throughout the league.
It also would seem that summer leagues for rookies, such as the Princeton, N.J., camp in which the Bullets and other Atlantic Division teams participate, would be in jeopardy.
It is expected that the Bullets will make a number of changes before the 1987-88 season.
Before Tuesday's announcement of the moratorium, Ferry said he was busy looking into possibilities regarding a number of free agents. The biggest names available in the current crop include Houston's Ralph Sampson and Detroit's Vinnie Johnson.
Asked about Sampson, who has said he would like to play in Washington because of its proximity to his home in Harrisonburg, Va., Ferry would not specify as to where his interests lay.
"Really, we would be interested in any good player that could help our team," he said.