Adam Silver discusses potential changes to playoff system at NBA’s All-Star weekend

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NEW YORK — Adam Silver has been open to the idea of making changes to the NBA’s playoff format, where the best 16 teams regardless of conference would gain entry into the postseason.

Speaking to reporters at his annual All-Star weekend press conference in advance of Saturday night’s events, Silver provided a little more insight as to exactly how those changes might be made, while cautioning that there is no easy or perfect solution.

“Playoffs, that’s an issue that I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on,” Silver said. “Once again, if there was a simple solution we would have made it long ago. I understand the notion that we should have the absolute 16 best teams competing in the playoffs seemingly regardless of conferences and divisions. I am a believer, though, in the conference and the division system. It’s a tradeoff from the earlier issue I talked about. To the extent that you have a balanced schedule, meaning every team roughly played each other the same amount of times, it would require a lot more travel. That goes against the notion of ensuring that our teams are rested when they play.”

Silver also mentioned looking at the league’s scheduling, to cut down on the wear and tear players feel by having to play back-to-backs and four games in five nights during stretches of the 82-game regular season. But more than anything, he seemed reluctant to make any of the changes too severe, and, based on the ideas he was throwing out there, it’s clear that the planning of all of this is in the extremely early stages.

“I believe in the conference system, although I think there may be some tweaks,” Silver said. “There’s been some proposals about maybe division winners are ensured playoff spots. Maybe it’s the top two teams in each division and maybe there’s some teams that, therefore, get seeded based on their record.”

In addition to coming up with precisely what the new format would be, Silver is trying to be cognizant of the potential for unintended consequences.

“I’m also focused on the parade of horribles. You keep hearing it,” Silver said. “That somehow we’ll end up with Miami playing Portland in the first round [a logistical nightmare from a travel perspective]. I don’t mean to suggest that’s not a real issue. We have to look at that as well and see statistically what’s the likelihood of that happening. But it’s a balance. There will be no perfect solution here. But it is something that the Competition Committee needs to focus on and the owners need to focus on, as well.”

Silver has said previously that any changes wouldn’t happen until the 2016-17 season at the earliest, and reiterated that while giving these remarks. He also said that while he hasn’t officially polled the owners on this, he believes they will ultimately do what’s best for the league as a whole, rather than looking at a solution that, in the short term, may provide an immediate benefit to their specific situation.

“I think we have a group of owners who are willing to take a long‑term view ultimately,” Silver said. “They understand over time that we’re in a highly competitive marketplace. That we want to put our best foot forward. That we want the best product on the court. That’s been the way they’ve approached all our issues.”

“I think it’s a difficult issue, because there are no perfect solutions,” Silver said. “It’s early days but we’re going to take a very hard look at it.”

Jeanie Buss: Phil Jackson fired by Knicks because ‘people close to you will take the knife and put it in your back’

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When he hired Phil Jackson as team president, Knicks owner James Dolan infamously said he was ceding control “willingly and gratefully.”

But New York kept Steve Mills, who had been running the front office, on staff as general manager. Mills also replaced Jackson as president after Jackson got fired.

That served as a lesson for Jeanie Buss, Lakers owner and Jackson’s former fiancée.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

Jeanie had learned from Jackson’s mistakes in New York, where he took that job as the head of the Knicks front office in March of 2014 and was fired three years later after, as she saw it, he fell prey to the internal politics that have plagued that franchise for decades.

“He should’ve made sure (to control) who was surrounding him, because the people close to you will take the knife and put it in your back,” she continued.

Buss doesn’t name Mills or anyone. But it’s hard not to jump to man who was both Jackson’s predecessor and successor. After regaining control, Mills said he tried to steer Jackson in other directions (which, hopefully).

This reflects poorly on Dolan, whose poor leadership has cast a shadow over the organization for years. There is a toxic culture within the Knicks, from the top down.

But it’s not as if Jackson were simply a victim of that culture. With the notable exception of drafting Kristaps Porzingis, Jackson failed miserably in roster-building. He contributed to the malaise with a comedy of incompetence.

Maybe Mills stabbed Jackson in the back. But Jackson was his own problem, anyway.

Report: Knicks, Lakers, Clippers will pursue Kevin Durant in free agency

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The Warriors are reportedly bracing for Kevin Durant to leave in free agency next summer.

Just because of the New York rumors? Maybe. They’re spreading like wildfire.

But the Knicks won’t be the only team chasing Durant.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will take a run at the back-to-back Finals MVP, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Of course, every team wants Durant. But not every team will actually pursue him. Many teams believe they have no chance of signing him and won;t waste their time.

It’s probably not coincidental this early list of suitors includes only the very biggest markets. Durant already plays for the best team in a desirable location. How do you differentiate yourself from Golden State? Maybe by being in an even bigger market.

The Clippers are reportedly the frontrunner to sign Kawhi Leonard. Could they get Durant, too? That’d be intriguing.

The Lakers are definitely looking to get LeBron James a star teammate, and Durant’s name has at least come up. But Durant is already dogged by the perception he’s just riding the Warriors’ coattails. He wouldn’t change the narrative by joining LeBron.

The Knicks don’t even project to have max cap space, though they’d rush to move Courtney Lee or someone else to get Durant. But this is already the worst team on the list. New York is going to further deplete its assets while remaining appealing to Durant? Hey, it could happen.

Or maybe Durant will look at these teams and see has it pretty good in Golden State.

It could also go the other way. If Durant gives even the slightest indication he’s interested teams not yet planning to pursue him, they’d jump to get into the race. So, don’t assume Warriors, Knicks, Lakers and Clippers is anything more than the preliminary pool of vying teams.

Report: Jimmy Butler trade talks ‘mostly dormant’

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Timberwolves president Tom Thibodeau reportedly raised his asking price for Jimmy Butler after the star’s explosive return to practice.

Unsurprisingly, potential trade partners – who already weren’t offering enough to satisfy Minnesota – didn’t rush to meet Thibodeau’s new demands. Not even close, apparently.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

For now, Minnesota’s talks with teams around the NBA are mostly dormant, league sources told The Athletic.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Butler reached an agreement: Minnesota would continue to try to trade Butler, and Butler would be a good teammate and play hard.

But how long will this détente last if the Timberwolves aren’t making progress on a trade?

Watch Kelly Olynyk’s game-winning putback with 0.2 seconds left for Miami

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All game long Miami owned the glass — the Heat grabbed the offensive rebound on 42.9 percent of their missed shots on Thursday night. That led to 16 more shot attempts and nine more free throws by the Heat than the Wizards on the night.

And it led to this, the game-winning putback from Kelly Olynyk with 0.2 seconds left.

 

Wizards fans need to admit it — they missed Dwight Howard inside (he is out with a butt injury, yes seriously). Without his presence (he’s still a quality rebounder), the Heat just outworked the Wizards on the glass and that ended up being the difference.