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.
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