Price wars

Were you shocked that the same NBA owners crying poor as discussions about a new collective-bargaining agreement heated up spent like mad during this summer's free agent frenzy? Don't be. There are strings attached to every one of those deals, and all of them lead to next summer's anticipated lockout. The longer the stoppage, the bigger the portion of those fat deals that stays in the owners' wallets. "They handed out those contracts because they know there will be a lockout," said one agent whose client was part of the summer's free agent pool party. "It makes the owners look like good guys, but they're counting on not paying a good chunk of that money next season."