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

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.