Silver looks ahead to possible tweaks for In-Season Tournament
LAS VEGAS (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver seemed more than satisfied by the way the inaugural In-Season Tournament went this season, though noted that it's only natural to expect some tweaks to the format before next year.
Silver, speaking Saturday before the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers met in the event's first championship game, said new elements like the brightly painted courts and cash incentives for team success were generally a hit.
“I want to thank all the players in the league, the coaches and of course the teams for embracing this new concept," said Silver, who pushed for years to have such an event — similar to what's done in many soccer leagues around the world — added to the NBA calendar. "I know it doesn’t come without challenges. There’s no doubt there’s some things that we’re learning this time through. Overall, we’re thrilled with the interest we’ve seen so far this season.”
There's nothing that is certain to change before next year, though one possible item that is set to be discussed is the tiebreaker format from group play — which included point differential, something that many players said they didn't like.
“It’s all about respecting the game and respecting your opponents,” Boston forward Jayson Tatum said last month on that point. “So, that part, I’m not a fan of.”
Silver said if fans found the point-differential portion to be unsportsmanlike, the league may look to other options.
“I’m not ready necessarily to move away from it,” Silver said. “But if ultimately there’s going to be a sense particularly from our American fans that it’s somehow an indication of poor sportsmanship, that’s not a good idea for us to be doing it. And maybe there’s some ways to tweak that.”
Silver addressed several other topics, including:
The league continues to investigate allegations that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey had an improper relationship with a female. But the status of that probe is unclear, given that the Newport Beach, California, police department is also investigating.
In a since-deleted post from a now-deactivated account, an anonymous social media user last month said a girl who is seen with Giddey in videos and photographs was a high school junior at the time.
“When there's a parallel criminal investigation, we do take a back seat to the criminal investigation,” Silver said.
Silver said he would personally “check in” with Memphis guard Ja Morant in the coming week, as the Grizzlies near the 25-game mark of the season.
Morant was suspended for 25 games after he was seen flashing a handgun in a video that was posted online. The video of Morant showing a gun while sitting in the passenger seat of a car was posted after he finished serving an eight-game suspension in March for another video in which he displayed a handgun in a Denver-area strip club.
Morant apologized in both instances.
Silver said Morant has “complied with everything he's been asked to do” in the return-to-play program that was laid out by the league when the 25-game suspension was levied.
The earliest Morant could play is Dec. 19, when the Grizzlies visit New Orleans. That game is the second half of a back-to-back and it isn't clear how quickly the Grizzlies will re-insert their franchise player back into the lineup.
CHRIS PAUL VS. SCOTT FOSTER
It is perhaps the league's weirdest rivalry, the one pitting Golden State guard Chris Paul against NBA referee Scott Foster. Paul, a 12-time All-Star, has been openly critical of Foster many times over the last several years.
After he was ejected from a game by Foster last month, Paul revealed that the friction stems from a years-old issue that involves his son. He did not elaborate.
“Scott Foster is one of the best, the most highly rated referees in this league," Silver said. “And obviously, Chris’ record stands for itself. They are two people I have enormous respect for and they need to be professional about this. Chris and I have now talked directly and there are issues we have to work through. But again, it’s my expectation that everyone’s going to be professional about it.”
San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama — the No. 1 pick in this year's draft — got rave reviews from Silver, even though the Spurs are off to a dismal start to the season.
San Antonio is 3-18 and on a 16-game losing streak.
“Victor Wembanyama has been a terrific addition to the league,” Silver said. “He's a wonderful young man. ... I know the Spurs are very encouraged by his play on the floor. Obviously, it's not representative in wins yet, but he's a young, developing player in this game.”
Wembanyama, who stands nearly 7-foot-4, doesn't turn 20 until next month. He's averaging 19 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Silver said the NBA's relationship with the National Basketball Players Association is “business as usual," even after the union saw a change in its leadership last month.
Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio stepped down less than halfway through her four-year term and was replaced on an interim basis by four-time NBA champion Andre Iguodala.
“I had no idea any changes were coming,” Silver said. He added that he has no other knowledge why there was a sudden change in union leadership.
Silver was asked if the league is considering putting the name of former Commissioner David Stern — Silver's predecessor — on one of its trophies, including those for the In-Season Tournament.
The notion has been discussed, and the league hasn't decided how best to honor Stern in that capacity — yet.
“Stay tuned,” Silver said.
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