Silver speaks on load management, TV deal at NBA All-Star
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association clearly do not agree on everything, as evidenced by the fact that there’s no new Collective Bargaining Agreement yet.
One thing they do agree on: A record-setting trade deadline this season is a good thing.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in his annual news conference preceding All-Star Saturday events that he felt the robust amount of player movement – 12 deals involving 24 teams and 49 players on trade-deadline day, Feb. 9, alone – only speaks to how many teams think they can make deep playoff runs this season and ultimately compete for a title.
“It’s interesting also that we’ve had probably as much player movement this year than at any time in our history,” Silver said. “And I think that speaks to teams, as we got close to the trade deadline, trying to situate themselves in the best possible position to compete going into the playoffs. And in this case over 10% of the entire league was moved roughly in the last week before the trade deadline.”
Among those traded leading up to the deadline: All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both dealt by Brooklyn, with Durant going to Phoenix and Irving to Dallas.
Not everyone believes that players are right to ask for trades. Durant said he believes it’s a good thing.
“It’s bringing more eyes to the league,” Durant said. “More people are more excited. The tweets that I get, the news hits that we got from me being traded, Kyrie being traded, it just brings more attention to the league and that’s really what makes you money, is when you get more attention. I think it’s great for the league, to be honest. Teams have been trading players and making acquisitions for a long time. Now a player can dictate where he wants to go, leave in free agency or demand a trade, it’s just part of the game now.”
Irving asked for a trade shortly after it became evident that the Nets were not going to meet his expectations regarding a contract extension.
“I had a plan in place where I wanted to stay in Brooklyn long term, be a Net. It was a dream come true for me,” Irving said. “Obviously, I wish things could have worked out for the best of all of us in terms of winning a championship and etching our names into history of the NBA. Those are big aspirations. It sounds easier said than done.”
NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio, speaking at a separate news conference before Silver’s annual event, echoed the players’ stance.
“Certainly the fact that we have seen so many trades just sort of signifies that, you know, people do believe that they can create a championship team,” Tremaglio said.
In other matters Silver addressed Saturday:
Talks between the NBA and NBPA are continuing with hopes of getting a new labor deal done. The sides have until March 31 to decide if either wants to opt out of the current deal on June 30; that deadline has already been moved twice and can be again, if necessary.
“It’s my hope that the deal will be done by then,” Silver said.
Among the issues that the NBA and the NBPA have been discussing in recent weeks is a return to letting players enter the draft straight out high school without waiting a year — that move is expected to be included in the next CBA — along with what the league considers an “upper spending limit” that would significantly tighten the rules on how much teams can spend each year on their roster.
“Yes, it has been considered," Tremaglio said of the spending limit. “And no, it is not acceptable."
There doesn't seem to be much of an appetite for the NBA to abandon the traditional 82-game schedule, though injuries and load management leave fans going to games sometimes to learn upon arrival that their favorite players aren't going to be in the game that night.
It has been an issue for years. The NBA has tried to make the schedule more player-friendly by lowering back-to-back games and eliminating stretches of four games in five days.
“It's something that I don’t think we’re approaching in an adversarial way with the players association," Silver said. “We’re working collectively, together with our doctors, our data scientists and trying to see if there’s an optimal way for player performance. If it means at some point we conclude that we’re better off elongating the schedule ... that’s worth looking at. If we thought it made sense to reduce the number of games we would."
Silver said he isn't concerned about the potential issue that could come if Diamond Sports Group — which owns several regional sports networks, including 16 broadcasting for NBA teams — enters bankruptcy.
Diamond, the parent company of 19 Bally Sports networks, skipped about $140 million in interest payments that were due Wednesday, starting a 30-day grace period that could be the prelude to a bankruptcy filing.
“Short term, I’m not all that concerned," Silver said. “It largely affects the regular season for the NBA in terms of distributing, delivering those games directly to our consumers. And if they were to indeed, you know, file for bankruptcy, there won’t be that much of the regular season left. For that period of time, we will have in place arrangements, if necessary, to continue to distribute those games to fans. So I think that’s what’s most important."
“I would say long term I’m not that concerned because there are many other ways, platforms, including local over-the-air television, streaming services, other methods, to bring those games linear and digitally directly to fans," he added. “In the mid-term, it’s an issue we’re going to have to work through."
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press