DALLAS -- David Stern and Billy Hunter did some late night Black Friday shopping. By early Saturday morning, the NBA commissioner and the players' union rep had a deal for a new basketball league.
(Yes, I know the players don't have a union any more, but don't get bogged down with the details. Just take them at their word that this was OK).
I'm not sure the new NBA will look drastically different from the old one. In fact, while there will be fewer games this season, there most assuredly will be more ugly ones as a 66-game schedule that doesn't start until Dec. 25 can only mean the time for players to rest is over.
But in the end, I think little was lost and at least something useful probably was gained.
Let's start with the Mavericks fans who already have had to wait an extended period of time to hail the champions and see the banner raised at American Airlines Center.
A shortened season for an older team like the Mavericks is a good thing. A schedule with lots of back-to-back action is not.
The San Antonio Spurs won their first title the last time the NBA went the shortened season route. Like the Mavericks, they had some wear on tear on key players (David Robinson, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson) although they had the best young player (Tim Duncan) in the game as well.
The fact that the Knicks with Patrick Ewing in his 14th season made it to those Finals as well perhaps is another sign that aging players can profit from a slightly condensed schedule.
I think Mavericks fans also benefit in the long run because - I'm making some assumptions here because he isn't talking - owner Mark Cuban did not get what he wanted from this lockout.
Cuban, it seems, wanted to be saved from himself. He didn't want to exercise restraint in spending. He wanted the league to force it upon him.
Instead, the NBA remains a league without a hard salary cap. It will have a harsher luxury tax in place for those that, like the Mavericks for several years, spend beyond the limits of the soft cap.
Will the new rules regarding sign-and-trade deals and mid-level exceptions hamper Cuban's ability to spend as he has in the past? We don't know that yet, but NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver believes that will be the case.
"I think it will largely prevent the high spending teams from competing in the free agent market as they have in the past," Silver said in the news conference after the tentative agreement was reached Saturday. "The luxury tax is harsher than it was. We hope it's effective. You never can be sure how a deal's going to work."
That last sentence is the real key as to why two months of NBA basketball was canceled. The NBA owners thought they were getting good deals in the past. That didn't prove to
be the case in 1999 - at least not in their minds - and that's why there was
a willingness to not only play hardball and issue threats to players but to write off the entire 2011-12 season if the players refused to sign off on major changes.
The owners got those changes. No one's worried about players in a league where the average salary will be more than $4 million a year, but the players' side did give back a considerable percentage (from 57 down to 49 to 51) of revenues.
If I'm a player, I'm anxious to hear from Hunter how two weeks ago the owners offered, in his words, "not the greatest proposal in the world," and now they have offered something ... significantly better?
The best new for fans - beyond the fact that season-ticket holders get a partial refund on a season that's too long to begin with - is that the days of incomprehensible trades may be coming to an end.
For years, the average fan couldn't look at a trade and make a value-for-value judgment. It's not about how much talent a team is getting; it's about how many bad (but expiring!) contracts they acquire in the process.
Remember when the Mavericks were able to sign Keith Van Horn to what was called a three-year deal in 2008 in order to trade him to New Jersey as part of the package for Jason Kidd? Even though Van Horn was already retired from the league?
Maybe that nonsense is on its way out.
The NBA: Where Real Trades Happen.
I'll gladly trade games in November and early December in exchange for that.
Tim Cowlishaw writes for The Dallas Morning News.