Adam Silver says Clippers sale “almost there,” Game 1 AC failure could have been handled better

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SAN ANTONIO — It’s pretty easy for Commissioner Adam Silver to feel good about the state of the NBA — “The state of the game has never been better” — when one of his teams just sold for $2 billion.

That sale, of the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald and Shelly Sterling to Steve Ballmer, dominated Silver’s press conference in San Antonio before Game 2.

“We’re almost there,” Silver said of when this will be resolved. “There is this last piece, and that is the lawsuit that Donald brought against the League and me personally. I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the League against a lawsuit by her husband. So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it’s over. I think it’s just a matter of time now.”

Silver said he hopes to have the Board of Governors (the other owners) vote on the sale at their scheduled July meeting and it could happen sooner.

Donald Sterling’s attorney had said he would sign off on the sale and drop his lawsuit, but has not done so yet because he thought the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine would be rescinded.

“There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way,” Silver made clear.

Shelly Sterling will still have a tie to the team through a charity, but Silver said this is not something with the team.

“Yes, she is going to continue to attend games,” Silver said. “There has never been a ban against Shelly Sterling. She can go to any game she wants and always could, even after Donald’s ban…

“Shelly, and I encouraged her to do this, has a right to elect that a portion of the proceeds from the sale be placed directly into a foundation in which she would have control. But in essence that’s her money. It comes from the sale of the team. It will not be a Clippers foundation, it will be a Shelly Sterling foundation or some other name she chooses. And as I said, that is something I encouraged her to do, and I hope she does do.”

• The other big topic of the Silver press conference was the air conditioning malfunction during Game 1. Silver admitted this could have been handled better, but this was an unusual circumstance.

“In hindsight it wasn’t handled perfectly, but they’d never been confronted with that issue before,” Silver said of the building crew in San Antonio. “We in the league office, and not just me as Commissioner, but I’ve been with the league office for more than 22 years now, I’d never dealt with a situation like that before….

“There was never a point where we were considering either postponing or canceling the game.”

Silver gave a timeline to the events, saying the building crew first noticed a warning light on the circuit breaker at 7:55 local time (the game tipped off just after 8 p.m. local time). The AC cut out around tip off and the it wasn’t until just before the half that the building workers realized they could not fix the problem.

• Silver praised the way the way the new CBA had helped the league’s competitive balance. But he was asked a good question (by J.A. Adande of ESPN): Is it really good for the league if the Thunder can’t keep their core together, if the Miami Heat might break up because the assembled team can’t be kept under the cap structure?

“Our goal was not to break up teams,” Silver said. “We had a transition in which the more hasher luxury tax would be implemented. But ultimately, any type of cap system in essence is a form of player sharing. So, yes, to the extent that James Harden leaves Oklahoma City and the Houston Rockets then become a competitive team, that’s a positive thing for the league. And part of the purpose of a cap system is so you don’t see too much talent aggregated in one market.

“On the other hand I don’t want to take anything away from the Spurs and the Heat. While the players are a critical component, the players were attracted and remained in those markets because of the quality of the coaching and the quality of the management, and hats off to these organizations. And my sense is the better managed organizations are going to be successful regardless of the system.”

• Silver was also asked about his push to change the one-and-done rule to two years.

“I sense there is a little bit of movement,” Silver said. “Ron Klempner, who is the executive director of the union said at a sports forum recently that it was something that the union was willing to discuss and certainly an individual, one-on-one conversations I have had with players as I travel around the league, my sense is that they’re willing to discuss it as well. The ongoing issue is that until we have a new executive director of the union, we’re not going to sit down and have any real serious discussions on the topic.”

There likely will not be on that or HGH testing until a new union executive director is chosen (that is expected to happen this fall, Kevin Johnson is leading the effort).

Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac, probable top-10 pick, declares for NBA draft

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Jonathan Isaac explored bursting through a loophole to declare for the 2016 NBA draft straight out of high school.

Instead, he went to Florida State. Now, he’ll enter the 2017 draft.

Isaac:

If he doesn’t hire an agent, Isaac can maintain college eligibility, but this message seems pretty final. Expect Isaac to remain in the draft, and expect him to go in the top 10.

What I like most about the 6-foot-11 forward: Despite being so lanky, he was an elite defensive rebounder. That shows an underlying technical proficiency and physicality that should serve him well.

And then there are the drool-inducing flashes – his ability to go up and get alley-oops above the rim and a sweet-looking jumper.

He’s still a work in progress, and he deferred a lot at Florida State. But he’s just 19, and he has the tools to do more. I’d love to get him on my team as he learns to assert himself.

Report: Clippers sort of resent Austin Rivers’ favored status

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The Clippers faced a potential crisis this summer.

They had already agreed to re-sign Austin Rivers to a three-year contract worth more than $35 million, and Jamal Crawford was threatening to leave. Losing the then-36-year-old Crawford would’ve been costly, but it wouldn’t have been devastating. The bigger issue would have been the image: keeping the coach’s son over the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers calmed the brewing storm by giving Crawford a three-year, $42 million deal.

But apparently the underlying tension hasn’t completely dissipated.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

The in-house resentment toward Austin Rivers being favored as Doc’s son, according to team sources, still very much exists, but it isn’t out of control.

Know what the Clippers truly resent? Losing. They’ve gone 8-9 since the All-Star break, and they’re clearly feeling the slump.

That brings lingering issues, like Austin’s place on the team, to the surface.

And other Clippers are reasonable to show suspicion about the dynamic, a complication Doc should have considered when he traded for Austin.

Austin has explained his never-that-warm relationship with Doc, who was busy coaching while Austin was growing up. These two claim this is far more a coach-player than father-son relationship, and I believe they believe that. I also believe it’s mostly true, though their familial ties probably intrude more than they realize.

That said, Austin has worked himself into a legitimate backup guard after a horrendous start to his NBA career. It’s worth a reminder just how bad he was in New Orleans because that shows how even his modest role now is a sign of tremendous growth. Austin has improved his shot, and his 6-foot-4 frame is an asset in some defensive matchups (probably not as many as Doc believes, judging by Austin’s assignments).

Does Austin deserve 28 minutes per game? Probably not, though he also handles garbage-time minutes so older teammates don’t have to. Does Austin deserve his $11 million+ annual salary? Probably not, though the capped-out Clippers had no recourse beyond minimum contracts to replace him, so he had leverage (ditto Crawford). Does he deserve to so often speak for the team? Probably not, though bigger stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan might not mind the occasional break.

Austin’s biggest problem is that, despite his improvement, his gaffes are still so blatant. That makes it more difficult to take him seriously, even when the totality of evidence says we should.

And for all the examples of Doc’s Clippers favoring Doc’s son, Austin was still the player who got left in the game with a concussion. That’s just dangerous, not nepotism.

There isn’t out-of-control resentment for Austin, because there’s isn’t out-of-control favoritism for him.

But there is some favoritism, and the more the Clippers struggle, the more they’ll look for a place to point the finger and occasionally land on Austin.

Report: Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, determined to become NBA head coach, offered Florida women’s job

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Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is the NBA’s first female full-time coach.

She could also become the next Florida women’s basketball coach.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is considering a lucrative offer to leave the NBA and become the University of Florida women’s basketball coach, league sources told The Vertical.

The financial offer would be a considerable raise, especially considering that she’s still a young, behind-the-bench assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff. Nevertheless, Hammon is grappling with the decision, because she has been determined to stay on course to become the NBA’s first female head coach, league sources said.

Hammon is blazing a trail in the NBA and might eventually become a head coach in the league. She has Gregg Popovich’s endorsement, praise from San Antonio players and success in limited opportunities.

But the path for a woman coach in men’s basketball is extremely narrow. It’s not fair, but Hammon faces hurdles others wouldn’t.

And the glass ceiling becomes exponentially thicker for a woman in women’s basketball who’s trying to jump to men’s basketball. Women’s college basketball is not a pipeline to the NBA, especially not for a woman. If Hammon goes to Florida, the paradigm changes. It would renew questions about her playing experience coming only in women’s basketball and her limited time with the Spurs.

Hammon wouldn’t be blackballed from the NBA, but she’d be setting up more obstacles for herself to clear to become a head coach in the league.

In one respect, I don’t envy her decision. However, she has positioned herself to choose between a promising path and an excellent job. Even if deciding is difficult, she’ll wind up in a good place.

Reports: Phil Jackson attending Shaq statue ceremony, Magic Johnson missing it to scout UCLA-Kentucky

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The Lakers are formally unveiling Shaquille O’Neal’s statue outside their arena tonight. Also tonight: UCLA-Kentucky in the Sweet 16, which features NBA prospects Lonzo Ball, Ike Anigbogu, T.J. Leaf, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo.

That makes an interesting choice for the NBA’s two highest-profile team presidents – the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Knicks’ Phil Jackson (who coached Shaq in Los Angeles), both of whose teams are headed toward a high picks in the upcoming draft.

And the front-office heads are going different directions.

Arash Markazi of ESPN:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Watching a single game in person is unlikely to swing anything. Both Johnson and Jackson could send scouts to watch UCLA-Kentucky live and then the presidents could watch video later.

But attending in person is ideal, and there are already questions about Jackson’s work ethic. This will only fuel them.

If nothing else, this is an opportunity for Johnson, new on the job, to establish an image. He can clearly juxtapose himself with the failing Jackson and establish himself as a diligent alternative. The Lakers hired Johnson at least in part due to his high profile, but that needn’t stop him from grinding now that he has the position. Anyone doubting him would respect that.