Sources tell ESPN that the National Labor Relations Board appears ready to issue a ruling on the union's clam of unfair labor practices against the NBA.

If the players' claim is successful, the NLRB would ask a federal court for an injunction that ends the lockout.

The players contend that the NBA has made "draconian demands and changes" to the collective bargaining agreement and imposed a lockout when there was "no impasse in bargaining."

The union asserts that the owners have made "harsh, inflexible, and grossly regressive 'takeaway' demands" intended to remove benefits the players have bargained for since 1995. The league has used "take it or leave it" tactics without "appropriate tradeoffs," say the players.

The players also claim the NBA engaged in "surface bargaining," without the actual intent of negotiating a new agreement with the players in good faith.

The NBA seems to recognize the risks presented by the union's claim.  While the management's side does not usually participate in early maneuvering at the NLRB, the NBA has taken steps to provide the NLRB with a significant amount of information in an attempt to dispute the union's complaint.

The NLRB's members are appointed by President Barack Obama and the board is considered by many to be predisposed to protecting union interests.