Berry Tramel: NBA's small-market owners need to win

by Berry Tramel Modified: June 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm •  Published: June 29, 2011

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 btramel@opubco.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.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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