While NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t agree with the narrative that the Golden State Warriors’ dominance is ruining the league, he does feel changes to the system could improve competitive balance across the board.
Speaking after the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Silver addressed the NBA’s current state of affairs and discussed potential changes that could come down the line to the salary cap, the one-and-done rule, playoff realignment and more.
Golden State’s firm hold at the top of the league’s hierarchy has been a bone of contention among fans and followers, with the star-laden team having won three championships in the past four years.
More than how much they’ve won, for many the issue has been how they’ve done it, with Kevin Durant’s decision to join in free agency in the summer of 2016 causing an uproar.
That feeling was only exacerbated this month when the Warriors landed four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins on a risk-free one-year, $5.3 million deal to bolster their lineup.
Though the Warriors’ ownership is footing a hefty bill to keep its talented core together, the soft salary cap is allowing them to do so. Silver feels looking at cap space and how it relates to the market could be the starting point for create more of an equal opportunity.
“I am not here to say we have a problem,” Silver said. “I love where the league is right now. But I think we can create a better system. We have learned from each successive deals, we try new things, we make predictions about how caps and exceptions will work, we have economists who come in and the union does as well, but it is not a perfect science in trying to predict the behavior of our teams and things change in the marketplace as well. I don’t think it is necessarily per se bad that the Warriors are so dominant.
“As I have said before, we are not trying to create some sort of forced parity. What we are really focused on is parity of opportunity… there are changes we can make to the system and I think we will create a more competitive balance and a more equality of opportunity. And the discussion in the room, people weren’t coming in necessarily complaining, but I think as good business people do, they are looking out to the future and saying how can we improve things.”
Adam Silver makes it clear that free agency will be moved up from midnight EST on July 1 to a more reasonable/TV friendly hour by next summer.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 11, 2018
When it comes to the age limit for draft eligibility, Silver said he’s ready for the rule to change.
Currently, players are required to spend a year removed from high school before entering the league. There has been chatter the league will revert to allowing players to be drafted out of high school, potentially by 2021, but Silver expects to discuss the topic with the National Basketball Players Association before anything is formalised.
“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” Silver said. “It won’t come immediately. But when I’ve weighed the pros and cons, given that Condoleezza Rice and her commission have recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and in essence the college community is saying `We do not want those players anymore,’ I think that tips the scale in my mind.”
Silver also touched on playoff realignment and its feasibility.
With a clear imbalance right now between the loaded Western Conference and weaker Eastern Conference, the idea of seeding playoff teams one through 16 – regardless of standing in their respective conference – has been thrown around.
Silver said the concept has “real appeal”, but suggested travel could increase by “roughly 40-50 per cent”, making it a difficult proposition.
Whether or not anything actually changes is unknown, but Silver’s track record indicates the NBA will at least explore everything they can to improve their product.
The Klutch Sports Group, agents for James, tweeted a photo of the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player on Monday night with “officially signed with the Lakers” as the caption.
The agents revealed July 1, hours after the start of free agency, that James had agreed to terms on the Lakers deal, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after four seasons in which he led them to four NBA Finals.
James brought Cleveland its first major sports crown since 1964 when the Cavs won the 2016 NBA crown but lost three of four finals showdowns with the Golden State Warriors, falling to 3-6 for his career in the NBA Finals, and decided to make a move in hopes of rebuilding the Lakers into a winner.
The Lakers tweeted an image of James wearing the team’s purple and gold jersey with his name and number, 23, on the back and the city lights of Los Angeles in the background plus “The King has arrived” as a caption.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 10, 2018
“Today is a great day for the Lakers organization and Lakers fans all over the world to welcome LeBron James, a three-time NBA Champion and four-time NBA MVP,” Johnson said.
“LeBron is special. He is the best player in the world. He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful. The Lakers players are excited to have a teammate who has been to nine NBA Finals.
“It’s a huge step closer to returning the Lakers to the playoffs and to the NBA Finals.”
The Lakers, a 16-time NBA champion, have missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. They haven’t gone past the second round of the playoffs since Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to consecutive NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.
Trae Young’s summer league campaign has been less than ideal and there’s a chance he won’t be in action again until the preseason.
The Atlanta Hawks rookie left Sunday’s 85-68 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Las Vegas with a right quad contusion – an injury that isn’t considered serious but may force Atlanta to be cautious with last month’s number five overall pick.
Atlanta only have one more scheduled game before the playoffs – against Chicago on Tuesday – and Young is hoping to return to the court before the summer league comes to an end.
“I’m going to try to get back in and get my body healed,” Young said, via ESPN. “It’s really up to them (when I play). I want to be back for the playoffs for sure, get some more games under my belt and keep playing.”
Young sounds like he’s eager to play again as soon as possible, and with how underwhelming he’s been so far, it’s understandable why.
Young entered the league known for being an elite shooter and playmaker, yet the former hasn’t lived up to the billing. After shooting 23.0 per cent in three games in Utah, the 19-year-old hasn’t been much better in Las Vegas, where he’s 4-of-16 so far.
His outside shot has especially been off the mark as he’s knocked down just 6-of-35 attempts from deep in total this summer.
Don’t know the kid. But to everyone judging Trae young too harshly. Remember SL nothing like the real thing.— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) July 6, 2018
While his free-and-easy shot selection hasn’t been uncharacteristic, the makes haven’t been there for a player that drew comparisons to Stephen Curry in his eye-popping season in college at Oklahoma.
Shooting during summer league rarely means anything because of the sample size, but Young’s aforementioned shot selection is arguably the biggest culprit for his low percentages. If he continues to take the kind of difficult shots he’s fired off so far, his shooting may not significantly improve.
Young’s playmaking, however, has been mostly encouraging as he averaged 4.3 assists in Utah and now 7.0 in Vegas.
If he tunes his decision-making and looks to facilitate more than looking for his own shot, he may find more success.