Adam Silver says after owners’ meeting raising age limit top priority

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It’s been pretty clear for a while that raising the age limit from the current 19 to 20 has been one of Adam’s Silvers’ top priorities.

Now he has the backing of the owners to really go push for it.

That’s what he said after exiting two days of owners meetings, the first he conducted wearing the commissioner hat after taking over for David Stern on Feb. 1. Silver went so far as to bring in NCAA president Mark Emmert to talk to the owners and discuss what needs to be done to get the age limit up to 20, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“If we’re going to be successful in raising the age from 19 to 20, part and parcel in those negotiations goes to the treatment of players on those college campuses and closing the gap between what their scholarships cover and their expenses,” Silver said. “We haven’t looked specifically at creating a financial incentive for them to stay in college. That’s been an option that has been raised over the years, but that’s not something that is on the table right now.”

It’s going to take more than just that — this is a negotiation with the NBA players union, which is still in the process of picking an executive director (it hopes to have a new permanent one by the start of this coming season, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is leading the search). The players are going to want concessions to let the owners have their way.

One thing reportedly to be put on the table is to dramatically up the pay in the D-League, where the current max salary tops out at $28,000 a season. There is no age limit in the D-League, so with higher pay it could become an alternative to college for high school players who want to earn money fast or just aren’t cut out for a couple years (at least) of college life.

That’s nice. The players will want more than that. They are not going to be bought off with trinkets.

Putting aside for a moment the divisive argument about whether the NBA should raise the age limit (I personally think it should be 18), if the owners really want this then they will be willing to compromise in other areas to get it. If not, they don’t want it that badly. Again, it’s a negotiation.

One that will get more serious this fall once the players union picks an executive director.

In other news, the owners decided to look more closely at ways to tweak the NBA draft lottery process. There are real concerns about a system that incentivizes losing to get high draft picks, as was seen this season around the league in situations (although no more this year than years past, it just got a lot more attention this time around). There are no simple answers here and Silver said there was no consensus on how to move forward, Windhorst reports.

The same is true of ways to tweak the playoff system to balance out uneven conferences. There has been some talk about doing away with conference designations for the postseason — for example this year the Spurs, with the NBA’s best record, would face the Hawks from the East instead of Dallas from the West — but with unbalanced schedules (teams play the other teams

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.