Adam Silver tells GQ he would like a hard salary cap, higher age limit


Sentences I never thought I’d type:

Adam Silver was interviewed in the latest issue of GQ.

Apparently the NBA Commissioner didn’t expect it either based on an aside comment to interviewer Chuck Klosterman — “When are you going to ask me about my clothes?” — but the Q&A in the latest edition of the magazine is a fun, free flowing discussion that hits on a variety of issues facing the NBA (including an old Chick Hearn favorite, widening the court).

But the most interesting points were ones that will come up in 2017 in the next round of collective bargaining (expect a lockout in 2017, the only question is will it cost games). Silver said this about things he wished he had.

“I would have a harder salary cap. I still think it’s unhealthy for the league when a team like Brooklyn goes out and pays an exorbitant luxury tax in order to give themselves a better chance to win. From a league-office standpoint, the ideal league would be for all thirty teams to compete based on the skill of their management and players, as opposed to one team paying more to get better talent. So creating a more even system would be at the top of my list. And I’ll give you one more: I think it would benefit the league to raise the minimum age from 19 to 20….

“We bargained with the union many years ago in order to move it from 18 to 19. Going to 20 was on the table during the last bargaining cycle [in 2011], but it was an issue we parked, having already lost several weeks of the season [due to the lockout], and we were anxious to get the season going. But it’s something I hope to address in the near future.”

We’ve discussed this many times before at PBT, I am opposed to an age limit in the NBA. I think if you’re good enough, you should be able to make a living playing basketball and that the only reason the age limit exists is the owners think it reduces their risk on missing in the draft (look at the last couple drafts and tell me that’s the case). I also think if a franchise wants to spend and pay a tax — as the Nets did — it should be allowed to do so. I have a basic issue with the idea of a hard cap to flatten out the talent pool in the NBA, I think the league is more interesting when there are great teams (and the nature of the sport eliminates the idea of NFL-like parity).

But the bottom line here is both of those issues are going to come up in the next CBA negotiations. And you can expect the players’ union — looking at the new television contract and the value of franchises in the wake of the Clippers sale — is going to push back hard on all of it.

One more interesting thing of note: Sterling, like many of the owners, was uncomfortable to a degree with the audio tapes that did in Donald Sterling as an NBA owner.

“I am mindful that this began as a private conversation between Mr. Sterling and a girlfriend. In some ways, this case was made easy for us, because that private conversation—completely unrelated to any acts of the NBA—was made public and widely distributed. So from the NBA’s perspective, I was dealing with a public statement. But that is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. This did not originate as a business conversation. It was not intended for public dissemination. And in fairness to everyone in the NBA, we have to consider the appropriate lines. We’re all entitled to our private thoughts, and even an occasional misstep or misstatement should not be career-ending.”