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.

Markelle Fultz returns to Philadelphia to do shoulder rehab with team

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Markelle Fultz is back with the 76ers.

Not in uniform for games, but he is back from Los Angeles and in Philadelphia working out with the team to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome, according to multiple reports. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story, then Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia confirmed it.

Fultz was in the arena for the Sixers game Saturday against the Thunder on national television (though not suited up to play).

There is no timetable for Fultz’s return, although his agent has said he expects Fultz to be back on the court this season. Whether that would be with the Sixers is another question, teams have called about the availability of the No. 1 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, but the offers have been so lowball that none of them have been seriously considered by Philadelphia.

After consulting with a number of specialists just a few weeks into the season (and just after the Jimmy Butler trade), the 20-year-old Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a pinching of the nerve through the collarbone area. Since December he has been in Los Angeles is doing physical therapy to relieve the issue.

Fultz has returned to Philadelphia and is continuing that therapy.

 

Report: Rockets trying to trade Carmelo Anthony, likely to waive Nunnally to create roster spot

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To bring in some front line depth in the form of Kenneth Faried Monday, the Houston Rockets first have to clear a roster spot.

That led to a lot of speculation it could be Carmelo Anthony who is let go, he remains on the roster but not with the team, in a kind of limbo while the Rockets and ‘Melo’s agent look for a landing spot. (He reportedly has several options and will choose one before the trade deadline, but if he really liked any of those options he would have already taken them rather than waiting for a better offer.)

The Rockets are “aggressively” trying to trade Anthony and find him a new home before Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported. However, James Nunnally is the most likely guy out, he was just signed to a 10-day contract.

If the Rockets haven’t waived ‘Melo yet, they’re not going to do it now.

Houston GM Daryl Morey is also working the phone lines to find wing depth to add to the Rockets’ roster. While James Harden‘s historic streak has carried the Rockets back into the playoff picture in the West, this is not the same Houston team that was a threat to the Warriors a season ago. Morey’s off-season gambles — including Anthony — have not panned out, and he is now trying to correct them.

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis out 1-2 weeks with sprained finger

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This is bad.

The New Orleans Pelicans are 21-25 and four games back of the eight seed in the West having lost 3-of-4 on the current road trip. When Anthony Davis is not on the court, the Pelicans get outscored by 4.2 points per 100 possessions.

Davis is not going to be on the court for a week or two due to a sprained finger, the team announced Saturday morning.

Looking ahead at the schedule, Davis is likely to miss between three and seven games.

Davis has played at an MVP level this season, averaging 29.3 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting, plus grabs 13.3 rebounds and dishes out 4.4 assists a night. And that’s just on offense, defensively he is one of the best rim protecting bigs in the league, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. Davis leads the NBA in win shares (8.3) and PER at 30.9. He has been an absolute beast all season long.

Yet he hasn’t been able to lead the Pelicans to a winning record because of the roster around him (and injuries that have sapped what little depth New Orleans had to begin with).

Because of that, the intensely competitive Davis — who has talked about legacy mattering more to him than money — is expected to turn down a $239 million contract extension from the Pelicans next summer. At that point New Orleans will have to consider trading him and 29 teams will be lined up to talk deal (the Celtics and Lakers are expected to be at the front of that line).

Marc Gasol, Mike Conley reportedly meet with Grizzlies owner, what will that mean?

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This summer, Robert Pera maintained ownership of the Memphis Grizzlies and with that meant the status quo remained — the Grizzlies were going to try to ride the duo of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley to the playoffs. There would be no rebuild.

After falling to the Celtics Friday night, Memphis is 19-26, has lost 10-of-11, and are 14th in the Western Conference. Around the league, there is a buzz that Memphis may have to look at trading Gasol, who has a player option this summer and could become a free agent.

With that slide as a backdrop, Gasol and Conley met with Pera recently, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Conley and Gasol, who has a player option for next season worth $25.5 million, sat down with Pera in Memphis this week to discuss the direction of the franchise, league sources said. Pera often meets with key team personnel when he visits Memphis over the course of a season.

Does that mean changes are coming? That’s not what Conley told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“That’s all there was to it,” Conley said after the Grizzlies’ loss in Boston on Friday night. “There was nothing special that came out of it that’s going to change the world or anything.

“We got to talk to him.”

Pera has resisted any kind of rebuild — and in a smaller market, with a community that has embraced the “grit ‘n grind” mantra, there are economic reasons that has been the smart move. While other teams are circling, so far there is no word out of Memphis that there are trades for stars to be had (Chandler Parsons on the other hand…).

Every GM will say of moving players “better too early than too late.” In Memphis, the franchise may have missed that window.