Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Adam Silver: Perception of Warriors and Cavaliers as overwhelming favorites not good for the league

26 Comments

The Warriors — featuring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson — are favored over the field to win the 2017 NBA title.

The Cavaliers — with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love — are favored over the field to win the Eastern Conference in 2017.

Is that a problem?

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, via ASAP Sports:

I’ll say, and I’ve read several stories suggesting that that’s something that the league wants, this notion of two super teams, that it’s a huge television attraction. I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear. I will say whoever is the prohibitive favorite, try telling that to the 430 other players who aren’t on those two teams. I mean, we have the greatest collection of basketball players in the world in our league, and so I’m not making any predictions, but there’s no question, when you aggregate a group of great players, they have a better chance of winning than many other teams. On the other hand, there are lots of things that have to happen.

We’ll see what happens in Golden State. You had a great, great chemistry among a group of players and you’re adding another superstar to the mix, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that’s ideal from a league standpoint.

I mean, for me as I discussed earlier, part of it is designing a collective bargaining agreement that encourages the distribution of great players throughout the league.

On the other hand, I absolutely respect a player’s right to become a free agent, and in this case for Kevin Durant to make a decision that he feels is best for him, and I have no idea what is in his mind or heart in terms of how he went about making that decision. But we’ll see. As I said, in a way the good news is that we are in a collective bargaining cycle, so it gives everybody an opportunity, owners and the union, to sit down behind closed doors and take a fresh look at the system and see if there is a better way that we can do it.

My belief is we can make it better.

This is a great answer. Someone can respect Durant’s decision while still desiring a system that doesn’t produce similar decisions.

But what is that system?

It needs to be something both owners and players agree on, which obviously removes some draconian options.

Eliminating individual max salaries might be the best compromise.

The Warriors had max cap room for Durant. They could not have kept their other stars and cleared enough cap space to compete with a mega offer from, say, the Nets. Perhaps Durant still would’ve chosen Golden State’s talent and culture. He took less money to leave the Thunder. But if the difference in money were far more significant, it would’ve given him more to consider.

Now is the time to resolve this issue (if it is an issue). Either side can opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by December 15, which would cause it to expire after the season.

The more money the NBA is making, the less likely a lockout becomes — and the league is making unprecedented money.  Neither owners nor players will want to forgo that huge income for any amount of time.

But that’s not the only factor. If either side believes there’s more money to be made, it will push for it.

Silver’s answer suggests the owners believe increased parity is a better business model. Some players outside Golden State and Cleveland might agree, though, as Silver said, they’ll still play hard in the meantime to prove the oddsmakers wrong.

A third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals is not nearly as inevitable as it seems to many right now. A compelling season, despite initial reservations, could change the tenor of this conversation.

Damian Lillard on shot to beat Thunder: ‘That was for Seattle’

2 Comments

Damian Lillard is a legend in Portland. He’s a legend in Oakland.

And now he’ll be a legend in Seattle.

The Trail Blazers star’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer wave goodbye ended the season for the Thunder, who moved to Oklahoma City from Seattle 12 years ago.

Lillard on Sports Business Radio Podcast:

What can I say? That was for Seattle.

Just when I thought Lillard’s shot and celebration were as cold as could be.

Clippers executive Jerry West: ‘I’ve never been around any organization that is better than this one’

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
2 Comments

Jerry West played 14 years for the Lakers, making the All-Star game every year and winning a championship in a Hall of Fame career. He coached the Lakers to a few playoff seasons. Then, he ran the Lakers’ front office for 18 years, winning five titles and setting the stage for several more by acquiring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Now, West works for Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

West on The Dan Patrick Show:

Steve Ballmer has really put together an unbelievably terrific organization. He’s spared no expense. It’s a really fun place to be. There’s not ego-driven at all. It’s just a fun place to be, and he’s got an awful lot of basketball people over there.

He’s just a great owner and one of the nicest men I’ve ever been around in my life. I’ve never seen a person like this with his success. It’s just remarkable how even-keeled he is. If people knew how philanthropic he was. He keeps all that stuff quiet. I guess he’ll get mad at me for mentioning it. But he’s just a remarkable man himself.

People always ask me what he’s like. And I say he’s just like you and I, normal. I’ve never seen – he’s willing to spend on players. He’s willing to spend on personnel within the front office. And as I mentioned before, I’ve never been around any organization that is better than this one. That’s for sure.

Maybe West is bitter at the Lakers. Maybe West is just gushing about his current boss, because that’s who pays him now.

But the wider respect held for the Clippers is evident in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George picking them without the team first getting an incumbent star. That says a lot about the organization, one that Ballmer has put his stamp on.

This also feels like a shot at the Lakers, whether or not West intended it. Many consider them to be the NBA’s golden franchise.

But their operations have had no shortage of problems lately.

The Lakers would have a stronger relative case further back, when West worked for them. However, organizations generally run better now. The league is more advanced. Maybe West is considering that.

Biases aside, his endorsement of the Clippers might be accurate.

West also worked for the Grizzlies.

Spencer Dinwiddie: Kyrie Irving tipped me off on his Nets interest in December

Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
2 Comments

In early December, Spencer Dinwiddie had yet to sign a contract extension with the Nets. Kyrie Irving had recently pledged to re-sign with the Celtics.

But groundwork was already being laid for those two to team up in Brooklyn.

Dinwiddie signed a three-year, $34 million extension later in December. Irving and Kevin Durant joined the Nets this summer.

How did it all come together?

Dinwiddie revealed details of his recruitment of Irving.

Dinwiddie, via The Athletic:

The first time he reached out was probably maybe like December, in terms of just loosely talking about it. Because he’s still obviously super focused on his season and everything. But you could just tell from his conversation that it was a little bit different. It was on his mind. Obviously, free agency was coming up. So, that’s kind of what it was. Just asking a friend about his current situation and what he thought.

Actually, no. It definitely was December. Because he made a comment to me. He was like, “New York might be real fun next year.” Because I hadn’t signed yet. And I was like, “Brother, I don’t know if they’re going to extend me or not.” He was like, “I think New York might be real fun next year.”

At the time, I was like, “You all going to the Knicks. That’s what’s happening. Are you and the monster going to the Knicks?”

That’s when I was first tipped off to the whole thing.

When he made the comment, that’s when I was like, “OK, things have changed.” Obviously at that point in time, it’s too early to be like he’s for sure leaving or he’s this, that or the third. But it’s just like, OK, something happened.

What happened in Boston? That’s the big question Irving has yet to answer.

Irving seemed checked out with the Celtics long before their season ended. It’s fair to question whether he was fully committed to winning with them.

There’s nothing wrong with Irving talking to Dinwiddie about New York as early as December. Irving faced a life-changing choice in free agency. Of course he was going to consider it throughout the season.

But in context of everything else that happened with Irving in Boston, this is more evidence he was pretty set on leaving for a long time.