Adam Silver says not to expect changes when he takes over for Stern

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Adam Silver was sitting next to David Stern on the dias in London, the Commissioner-in-waiting sitting next to the man who will step down Feb. 1 after 30 years as the head of the league. It was their last press conference together, this one before the Nets/Hawks game in London, and was likely Stern’s last presser as NBA commissioner.

One of the early questions was one a lot of fans are asking (some expectantly): come Feb. 2 what is going to be changed in the NBA besides Silver’s signature being on the balls used by the league?

“That is one being changed, the signature on the ball, but other than that…” Silver trailed off at the press conference shown live on NBA TV.

“In all seriousness, I’ve been working alongside with David for 22 years now and I think we’ve wanted to change we have changed. It’s been a partnership. My plan is to listen to the team owners, listen to the players, listen to the partners of the NBA then be very deliberate about making any changes. The league is operating at a wonderful state right now and I’d be cautious about making any changes.”

The change from Stern to Silver is one more of style than substance. Silver is more a modern CEO, more a consensus builder and less a force of personality.

As for what Stern will be doing come Feb. 2, he said trying to figure out what to do with all the boxes he brought home from his office, then he wants to do a little skiing.

After that, he said to expect a few big announcements.

Here are highlights from some of the other highlights and topics covered.

• With the NBA back in London the pair was asked about bringing a regular season NBA game to bigger basketball hotbeds in Europe such as Spain, Greece or Turkey, Stern gave the businessman’s answer:

“The economy is booming comparatively in the UK. We’re having a sell-out at good prices, I’m not sure that’s possible at the current time in Greece. It’s unlikely in Spain… Turkey and Italy as well, these are tough times. It’s problematic. And the O2 is a spectacular building, the last time we played in Italy it was at the Forum, and that building may be as old as I am…

“But we will go back to those places, we will go back to Spain and Italy and Greece, I just don’t know when Commissioner Silver will choose to do that.”

• Silver reiterated what Stern has said before — the league has discussed having full time teams in Europe, but if they ever did it this would be an entire division, not just one team. When in Europe the league loves to talk this idea up, but the logistics are difficult. At best. (Incorporating existing teams makes more sense in some ways, but adds a number of challenges.)

• Silver confirmed the league does plan to continue to play regular season games in London. As expected. The Nets have been a more aggressive franchise than most in marketing itself in Europe but Silver said they will spread the wealth around with which teams travel for these games down the line.

• Speaking of international ball, Stern said the league would not be releasing its contracted players to play in International events during the NBA season as FIBA tweaks and changes its schedule.

• “Under the right circumstances we’d love to see a team back in Seattle,” Silver said.

“That’s great, he sounds like a commissioner,” Stern joked about the reply.

• Stern largely dodged the question of things he wish he’d gotten done, saying he wished the WNBA was 24 teams instead of 12, that the Americans won the gold at the Athens Olympics, but that’s about it. Says he will travel some for the NBA, which is to be expected.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.