NBA commissioner Adam Silver denied pressuring the 76ers to hire Jerry Colangelo and relegate Sam Hinkie. Silver also said he’d never meddle with the Knicks, who just fired Steve Mills and are rumored to be pursuing Raptors president Masai Ujiri. But many around the league still believe Silver influenced Philadelphia toward a front-office change.
So, of course people suspect Silver of doing the same with New York.
And of course the league is denying that.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Some league insiders also have questioned whether Dolan is as all-in on Ujiri as advertised, because of the perception in various corners that the league office (specifically N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver) is pushing Ujiri as the ideal candidate to try to rescue the Knicks.
In response to my latest newsletter about a perception in some corners "that the league office (specifically Commissioner Adam Silver) is pushing Masai Ujiri as the ideal candidate to try to rescue the Knicks," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the following: "It's 100 percent false"
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 5, 2020
It was already seen as inappropriate for Silver to sell the 76ers on Colangelo, who was out of the league. It’d be far more scandalous for Silver to try to navigate Ujiri from one team to another. Ostensibly, Silver should treat the Knicks and 76ers as equals.
But New York is the NBA’s biggest market. The Knicks languishing in the basement is not good for the league. There’s no way around that reality.
So, people will whisper about Silver’s motivations and methods. That isn’t necessarily fair to Silver. But the situation leads to suspicion.
If Knicks owner James Dolan isn’t enthralled with Ujiri, outside advisement – from Silver or anyone else – might not be enough. Dolan tends to play by his own rules. That might mean hiring an agent to run the front office.