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The plaintiffs represent various types of players affected by the lockout _ those under contract, free agents and rookies.

They argue in the Minnesota filing that the lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act” and that the owners’ final offer for a new CBA would have “wiped out the competitive market for most NBA players.”

Boies said the lawsuit was an attempt to restore competitive free-market conditions

Players were willing to consent to the owners’ demands of a 50-50 split of basketball-related income _ a transfer of about $280 million annually from their guaranteed 57 percent under the old deal _ but only if the owners met them on their system wishes.

And Boies said it was those owners who put the league in this position.

“If it were up to the players, there would be games being played right now,” he said. “There is one reason and one reason only that the season is in jeopardy and that is because the owners have locked the players out and have maintained that lockout for several months.

“If there’s not a basketball season, responsibility for that lies in one place and one place only, and that is the NBA and the NBA owners because they’re the ones who are keeping the players from playing.”

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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: twitter.com/Briancmahoney