NBA Commissioner Adam Silver works at the pleasure of the NBA owners. He is their employee.
Not that it ever stopped David Stern from telling an owner what to do, but Silver is a little more subtle than that. He plants ideas; he wants the owner to think it was his idea to do what Silver ultimately wanted him to do in the first place. For example, hire Jerry Colangelo to put a new face — and maybe speed up the turn around process — in Philadelphia.
Silver was on FiveThirtyEight’s “Hot Takedown” podcast and talked about how he didn’t like the Sixers’ rebuilding plan under GM Sam Hinkie, but he couldn’t force a change.
Q: Are you personally, as the commissioner, OK with the way that the 76ers have run their franchise the past three seasons?
Silver: “I don’t want to answer that directly, There’s a marketplace of ideas and approaches that go into managing a franchise. For me, if a franchise is managed within the rules of the league, it’s acceptable to me. I don’t think I should be browbeating owners and saying this is how I think you should manage your team. And they got unlucky as well — if Joel Embiid were healthy or on the floor, we may be having a very different discussion. On the other hand, because of the strategy they were following, there was an extremely small margin for error. So it’s a combination of their strategy and of bad luck. But bad luck is something that has to be factored in as well.
“Am I fan of that strategy? Put it this way: No. But does that mean that it’s not acceptable under the league rules? It is, and it’s partly why I had proposed to change the odds of the draft lottery.”
Enough owners voted against that change so it didn’t happen.
Silver goes on to say that there are a lot of ways to get owners to consider changes, like the “resetting” of strategy in Philly. Even though we know bringing in Colangelo (and the subsequent hiring of Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach) is more about optics than reality. Colangelo isn’t stupid; he’s not getting rid of all the high picks they have coming up.
If the Sixers get lucky in the lottery and land Ben Simmons in the draft, get Embiid healthy, and get Dario Saric to come over from Europe, then in a couple of seasons look like a real up-and-coming threat, that is all thanks to Hinkie and not Colangelo. But we’ll discuss that if and when it happens.