NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks about league expansion and possible All-NBA changes before the Finals

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks about league expansion and possible All-NBA changes before the Finals

Prior to Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke to members of the media in his annual State of the League address and addressed several important issues. From league expansion, potential All-NBA voting changes, and potential NBA schedule tweaks, Silver provided a glimpse into the future of the NBA and where we might see the league going in the future.

Here’s a breakdown of some highlights from Silver’s address.

NBA expansion plans

This has been a hot topic in the league for several years, and there have been reports to suggest that if the NBA expanded, the two cities it would consider would be Seattle and Las Vegas. It was also reported that the league would do so Look for a $2.5 billion fee for two expansion teams each to add, a pretty expensive number to create a new franchise. However, Silver said Thursday night that the league is not currently focused on expansion.

“This talk isn’t true,” Silver said. “Like I said before, this league will invariably expand at some point, but right now we’re not discussing that. One of the factors in expansion is the potential for talent dilution. As I said before, I think it’s remarkable that in the second most played sport in the world after football, there are tens of millions of young men playing this game, and then the top 450 in the world in this league, that there are a few of them distinguishing themselves as the very best among those 450, but after that there’s a fall, a fall in talent.

“So the expansion introduces some dilution. And even if you add about 30 other players who are roughly comparable, there’s still a finite number of really top-notch super talents. That’s something to keep in mind of the other teams as we think about expansion. But these are wonderful markets. We’ll deal with that at some point, but there’s no concrete timeline at the moment.”

Potential All-NBA Voting Changes

There has been controversy over how All-NBA selections are decided for years, and this season was no different. While consecutive MVP winner Nikola Jokic was named to the first team, runner-up for the award, Joel Embiid, was only named to the second team due to position requirements associated with All-NBA voting. The positional component of All-NBA voting has been seen as antiquated as the league has transitioned to a more positionless style of play. At that point, Silver said the league was considering removing the position designations for the All-NBA.

“I think there’s quite a bit of thought about whether we — really, you, as it works now, the media — should only pick top players, instead of picking by position,” Silver said. “I think we’re a league that has increasingly moved towards positionless basketball and the current system can create some injustices depending on what position you happen to be in. So that’s something we’re looking at. It’s something that we’re going to be discussing with the Players Association because it affects incentives and player contracts and, as you know, it also has a deep meaning to their legacy. So we’re going to look at these things.

To point out to Silver that the All-NBA is tied to contract incentives, players have raised concerns in the past that the media members are essentially the ones who control how much money they can make based on their votes. Silver said that the league and the Players Association believe this is the best way to deal with these incentives and as far as the media are the decision makers, it is the least biased way to approach voting.

“Right now we’ve agreed with the Players Association to use these designations to trigger certain bonuses in players’ contracts, frankly because we couldn’t find a better way that would feel objective to everyone involved,” said Silver. “I think we all recognize that it would be unfair to do this on a purely statistical basis or just using analytics because the intangibles are not captured. I certainly don’t think anyone wanted the league office to do this. And We have developed this proxy for the media to do this.

“I understand from a player’s point of view when I say, ‘I can’t believe the media has been given this power over me.’ I’ll say if you have essentially a hundred media members on the panel it seems to work its way in. We’ll take that up with the players and sit back and see if there’s a better way to do it.

On the Trail Blazers are reportedly for sale

A surprising development was reported Thursday when it was revealed that Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky made a $2 billion bid to buy the Portland Trail Blazers. Former Blazers owner Paul Allen died in 2018, and a trust headed by Allen’s sister Jody has since controlled and operated the team. After it was revealed that Knight and Smolinisky had made a bid for the team, the Blazers’ current owner issued a statement that the team is not currently for sale. Although Silver didn’t have full details of the reported sale, he said the Blazers will eventually be sold.

“I don’t know the full details of Paul Allen’s trust, what I understand is that Jody Allen, Paul Allen’s sister, is the trustee of the estate and that the team will eventually be sold,” Silver said. “I have no sense of the exact timing, but eventually it will be up for sale. It’s an enormously complex property, and has been for several years [since Paul’s death], these things can take time. However, everyone has an interest in a smooth transition. I think Jody has been an excellent manager of the team in the meantime. Portland has been a wonderful community for the NBA and I would prefer the team to remain in Portland as part of that process.”

Changes to the NBA schedule

The NBA has toyed with various ways to tweak the schedule for years. When the league restarted after a summer 2020 shutdown, we could see what it would look like if NBA games were played throughout the summer. Last season, the league scrapped 10 games from the schedule and kicked off Christmas week to give players a bit of a break after the Orlando bubble. However, the league returned to its usual schedule that season without notable changes. While some players would like a reduction in games to limit the spike in injuries we are seeing, a change could come in the form of a mid-season tournament.

“I think we’re trying to see it now, rather than reducing the number of games, we think from a competitive standpoint there’s an opportunity to improve what has been a long regular season for a lot of people,” Silver said. “And one way to do that is through a tournament in the season. Something we talk about a lot. We’re not there yet. We’re continuing to talk to our competition committee, our team governors, the players association, to see if there’s a way throughout the season to create more meaningful games, more games with consequences, possibly a tournament that arguably some of the games of the regular season but would make more sense.

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