Adam Silver: “Summer” deadline to modify North Carolina bathroom law or NBA may move 2017 Charlotte All-Star Game

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OAKLAND — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made it clear: He doesn’t want to move the 2017 NBA All-Star Game out of Charlotte. He was optimistic that efforts were taking place behind the scenes to modify North Carolina’s much discussed “bathroom law.”

But if it’s not done by sometime this summer, the NBA is looking at its its options to move the game to another city.

“We are looking at alternatives,” on where to host the 2017 All-Star Game, Silver said in his press conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “So the critical date for us is are we in a position, if for some reason we don’t move forward in Charlotte, to play our All-Star Game somewhere else? We are in the process of looking at other options. At the same time, I don’t think it would be productive to draw a line in the sand, and we’d be moving on if I didn’t think there were constructive discussions going on in North Carolina right now.”

It makes complete political sense for Silver not to draw a hard-and-fast line in the sand. However, logistically, there needs to be a drop-dead date, even if the league does not make it public.

“Realistically, this summer,” Silver said. “I don’t see we would get past this summer without knowing definitively where we stand.”

In question is the “bathroom law” that has become a national focal point on the topic of transgendered — as well as gay and lesbian — rights.

North Carolina’s legislature called a special session earlier this year approve HB2, which restricts transgender bathroom use (you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born) and preempted anti-discrimination ordinances put in by Charlotte and other North Carolina cities that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. The law led to a business backlash — PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and others have pulled plans for expansion in the state off the table — as well as a social one, including things such as Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert in the state.

Silver said the law is not going to be changed because of what the NBA does or does not do. However, the law does not fit with the ethos of the NBA.

“But one of the core principles, underlying principles of this league is diversity and inclusion,” Silver said. “I think people understand that’s one of our values. It was a value built from the ground floor up in this league long before I ever got involved in it, and I’m sort of carrying the mantle now. But I know I speak on behalf of our owners, our teams and our players. I think they all feel very strongly that this is a core principle of our league, and that where we choose to celebrate something like an All-Star Game, that those values should be honored.”

What Silver wants to see is North Carolina modify the law, saving the NBA the trouble of moving the All-Star Game. Or, explaining why it’s not okay to play the All-Star Game in the state but it is okay to play 41 other regular season Charlotte Hornets games there.

“I was in North Carolina about two and a half weeks ago, spoke to a lot of business leaders in Charlotte who are working behind the scenes, frankly, to craft some sort of compromise with the governmental leaders both in the city and the state,” Silver said. “I’d say there is absolutely strong interest in trying to work something out. I think both sides of the issue recognize, however heartfelt their views are, that the current state of being is causing enormous economic damage to the state.”

The NBA’s vague summer deadline creates an interesting dynamic. This law was passed with the overwhelming support of Republicans in the North Carolina legislature, and not coincidentally they did this in an election year when trying to motivate their base. Even if those Republicans are willing to modify the law, would they be willing to do so before the November elections? If not, what decision will Adam Silver and the NBA make?

James Harden returns to 76ers Monday night, is on minutes restriction

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The 76ers were able to keep their heads above water. For 14 games, James Harden was out with a right foot tendon sprain — both Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey missed games in that stretch as well (Maxey remains out) — and Philadelphia went 8-6 with a +2.9 net rating and the best defense in the NBA over that stretch.

Monday night in Houston, Harden returns.

This wasn’t a surprise, nor is the fact Doc Rivers confirmed Harden will be on a minutes restriction at first.

Harden averaged 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds a game before his injury, and while his 3-point shooting percentage was down (33.3%) he was still efficient and finding his footing as more of a facilitator than scorer.

The 76ers are 12-11 on the season and sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the East (with the Pacers and Raptors). If Harden can spark the Philadephia offense there is plenty of time for them to climb into the top four, host a first-round playoff game and position themselves for a deep playoff run. But it starts with getting their starting guards healthy again.

Harden is ready to take that on.

Trae Young frustrated ‘private conversations get out to the public’ about missed game

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Rumors and chatter of tension in Atlanta — about how Trae Young was adapting to playing with Dejonte Murray, and his pushback on coach Nate McMillan and his efforts to get the ball moving more — have been all over the league since the start of the season. Over the weekend, a little of that leaked out, with reports Young chose not to come to the arena Friday after McMillan gave him a choice of participating in shootaround or missing the game.

Young addressed the report and seemed more concerned that it got out than the report’s content.

“I mean, it was just a situation. I mean, we’re all grown men here and there’s sometimes we don’t always agree. And it’s unfortunate that private situations and private conversations get out to the public, but I guess that’s the world we live in now. Yeah, I’m just gonna just focus on basketball and focus on helping my team win. And that’s what I got to be focusing on…

“Like I said, it’s a private matter, again, made public, which is unfortunate. And if it was to stay private, it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. But like I said, it’s unfortunate in my job, and my goal is to win championships. And that’s what I focus on.”

Young went through shootaround  Monday and is set to play against the Thunder.

Murray has been professional throughout this situation, saying he didn’t see anything at the shootaround Friday and backing Young and McMillan when asked.

Bringing in Murray was supposed to take some pressure off Young and spread the wealth more on offense, ideally allowing Young to be more efficient. Instead, Young’s usage rate is nearly identical to last season, he is shooting just 30.3% from 3 and his true shooting percentage has fallen below league average. The Hawks as a team make the fewest passes per game of any team in the league (stat via NBA.com). The Hawks’ offense is still a lot of Young, but it’s not as efficient as it has been in years past.

Atlanta is still 13-10 on the season, has a top-10 defense and sits fourth in the East — they are not struggling. But neither have they made the leap to become a team that could threaten Boston or Milwaukee atop the conference, and that’s what the Hawks expected.

There could be personnel moves coming in Atlanta — John Collins is available via trade, again — but if the Hawks can’t smooth out their internal, existing concerns (and get Collins and DeAndre Hunter healthy) other roster moves will be just cosmetic.

Nike, Kyrie Irving part ways, making him a sneaker free agent

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Here’s the positive spin for Kyrie Irving: He will have the chance to remake his situation into something he’s more comfortable with during 2023. As a player, he will be an unrestricted free agent and can choose where he wants to play in coming seasons (how many teams are interested and for how many years will be interesting to see).

Irving also is a sneaker free agent — Nike has cut ties with him, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Irving is happy with this.

The separation is not a surprise. Nike suspended its relationship with Irving after he Tweeted out support for an antisemitic film, did not apologize (at first), and was suspended by the Nets. Here was the company’s statement at that time:

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism. To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Nike founder Phil Knight said it was likely the end of the company’s relationship with Irving.

That’s not a small thing by Nike, Irving has had a signature shoe line since 2014 and is reported to have a deal with Nike worth more than $10 million a season because his shoes are popular. However, his contract with the shoe giant was set to end in October 2023, and there had been reports Nike did not plan to extend that deal before this current controversy started.

Nike is already looking in a new direction, at Ja Morant.

Irving now has the chance to choose his new direction.

 

Cavaliers’ Dean Wade to miss 3-4 weeks due to shoulder injury

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In Cleveland’s search for a fifth starter to play the three next to Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, Dean Wade might be the best of the group. Not that the numbers are great for him or anyone (Cedi Osman is the best statistically) but the eye test makes one think Wade could be the answer.

We’ll have to wait a while to find out as Wade will be out 3-4 weeks with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, the Cavaliers announced. Friday night against the Magic he suffered an aggravation to a previous injury.

Wade has been a quality floor-spacer for the Cavaliers this season, shooting 41.1% from three, and is averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game, playing a little more than 24 minutes a night.

When he returns, hopefully coach J.B. Bickerstaff will give him a little more run with the rest of the Cavaliers core (when they are healthy).