This morning's New York Times looks at the NBA lockout and wonders whether all the owners -- those from small markets, those with big payrolls, those losing money, those winning titles -- are on the same page when it comes to demanding givebacks from their players. Long story short: Yes and no. As in:
Micky Arison, whose Miami Heat play in the N.B.A.'s 14th-largest market, is among the owners most eager to settle, according to people close to the talks. Mark Cuban, whose Dallas Mavericks play in the league's fifth-largest market and have one of its highest payrolls, is one of the most intractable.
But Cuban does have a solution -- at least, according to Bill Simmons and Grantland, where yesterday Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, was a guest for an hour-long podcast during which he threw out this revelation: Cuban wants to ditch the salary cap altogether. And that, says Hunter, is "The Game Changer." Slam Online directs our attention to the transcript:
Question: The owners seem like they want something bigger than a new labor deal. They want to create a new economic model for the league. What responsibility do you have to help them build that model?
Billy Hunter: Mark Cuban, ironically, came out with a structure that he called "The Game Changer." We talked about moving in a different direction, in terms of no salary cap. We took that idea back into our room, and we in turn responded with something similar. I saw the reaction that he had to it, and two or three other owners in the room were really excited about it. Keep in mind, when you start talking about no salary cap, the salary cap has existed in the NBA for at least the last 30 years. It was the creation of David Stern. I don't know if there was any pushback because of that. We were prepared to pursue that whole idea of going into a different direction.
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The salary cap for last season was $58 million; the Mavs' payroll this season is projected to be around $63 million.