One day from the NBA lockout, and I'm like everyone else. Settle, settle, settle.
You've hooked us on the Thunder. We're in no mood to go into rehab. Not with this team.
But before we get too militant on demanding our basketball, let's put on the wide-angle lens.
An ownership victory in these labor negotiations would be good for Oklahoma City. A fundamental change in the NBA's economic model would help the Thunder's long-term viability.
The owners want a payroll cap, a hard cap, like the NFL's. That won't come easy. The NBA union appears entrenched against such a concession, though missed paychecks often make players rethink their position.
A payroll cap might actually hurt the Thunder in the short term. With this team of 22-year- (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and 21-year-olds (James Harden, Serge Ibaka), Sam Presti would have to figure out all kinds of tricks to keep everyone on board with a hard payroll limit.
But long term, the Thunder is better off with a real cap, to keep franchises like the Lakers and owners like Mark Cuban from blank-check decision-making.
Payroll caps don't guarantee every franchise can compete. They do keep franchises from spending their way to victory.
The great constant in baseball is not that the Royals or Pirates will lose. Those teams lose because they are mismanaged. The great constant in baseball is that the Yankees and Red Sox will win. Foul up on personnel, and the Yanks and Red Sox just write a check.
You can't do that in the NFL. You can do it to a certain extent in the NBA, which has a flexible cap that some teams pay no mind to.
Now, we need to be careful about playing the little-guy card too much. Truth is, the Knickerbockers stink and have done so much of the last decade, despite playing in midtown Manhattan. The Warriors have wallowed for much longer than that, despite owning the Bay Area. The Celtics have had their low moments.
Meanwhile, the small-market teams have mostly competed well. San Antonio has four titles. Salt Lake City and Portland have been consistent NBA winners. Orlando went to two NBA Finals with completely different teams. Oklahoma City is off to a fine start.
Memphis and Sacramento have struggled, but still, that's not a bad track record for small markets. Just as good, in fact, as the NFL small markets.
The NFL has only two single-franchise markets. Both Green Bay and Jacksonville have produced consistently quality teams. But counting Buffalo and Nashville (which have only National Hockey League franchises in addition to football), the NFL small markets have fared no better than the NBA's.
And baseball is a shaky comparison, because baseball has no single-franchise markets and hasn't had one since the 1965 Milwaukee Braves.
But a hard payroll cap would improve NBA parity. It would keep Jerry Buss or Cuban from just spending like crazy.
Great example: the Thunder on Wednesday signed Nazr Mohammed to a contract and next season will pay its four big men (Nazr, Ibaka, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins) about $15.3 million combined. The Lakers will pay center Andrew Bynum $15.1 million all by his lonesome.
So a hard cap would definitely be in the best interest of Clay Bennett, Presti and anyone else who wants to see a championship parade float down the Bricktown Canal some day.
But a hard cap will be hard-earned. The owners' negotiations have been ridiculous. The initial offer of a $45 million payroll cap per team, with no guaranteed contracts, was nothing but an insult. I don't see how the players could stand to be in the same room with David Stern after that.
The owners eventually have come up to a convoluted $62 million cap, but that's too low. I don't know why we can't compromise. Get into the $70 million range, and require teams to spend at least $60 million.
That's not the home run the owners sought, but this thing will be ended by compromise.
Oh well, back to the point. I'm generally on the players' side of things in sports labor disputes, but Oklahoma City — and our friends in San Antonio, Salt Lake, Orlando and the like — needs a management victory.
Maybe that can soothe our restlessness when autumn arrives with no NBA.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.