Didn't the settlement occur AFTER the NFL won its appeal that the unions anti-trust case had no merit? If the NBA players take this same path and receive the same result in court (win initially, lose on appeal) how are they in a better spot with no leverage, no union, and no season?
The NFL did not win such an appeal. The NFL won an appeal that allowed them to continue the lockout, but the court took no position on whether such a lockout would be a violation of antitrust laws. Basically, the union sued to force the owners to let them play. The courts said that they can't end a labor dispute like that.
What this means for the NBA, assuming other circuits follow the Eighth Circuit's precedent (big assumption), is that the NBA players can't sue to end to the lockout. They can still sue to recover damages from the lockout if a court rules that the lockout was a violation of antitrust laws however.
Wow, just writing that makes me cringe at these players allowing Hunter to play them like this. What are the players fighting for and what leads them to believe they will ever receive it no matter how many seasons they miss? It's criminal what these players are allowing Hunter and the agents persuade them to do and more players like Kevin Martin need to speak up and very soon before it is too late!
In the abstract, with an antitrust lawsuit, the players could earn triple their actual damages. If they lose the entire season due to a lockout, that could be approximately $6.84 Billion (assuming 57% of $4B is their actual damages).
An antitrust suit could be very bad for the owners. I don't actually know for certain if the players would win, because I don't know a tremendous amount of labor law. However, from an antitrust perspective, their case is exceptionally good. 30 businesses got together and decided they would pay no more than a certain amount for a given input (labor). That's a no no usually.