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Silver says gambling probe of Raptors' Porter could lead to NBA banishment

Jontay Porter Toronto Raptors Jontay Porter - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Toronto's Jontay Porter could face expulsion from the league if the gambling-related accusations against him are found to be true, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday.

Silver, speaking after a two-day meeting of the league's Board of Governors, did not reveal any specifics about the investigation surrounding Porter, other than saying the probe is ongoing. Porter has not played since the league said it was looking into betting patterns surrounding his on-court performance.

“I have enormous range of discipline available to me," Silver said. "It’s cardinal sin what he’s accused of in the NBA. The ultimate extreme option I have is to ban him from the game. That’s the level of authority I have here because there’s nothing more serious.”

ESPN first reported the investigation, which it said surrounded Porter’s performance in games on Jan. 26 and March 20. In both of those games, Porter played briefly before leaving citing injury or illness — and did not come close to the numbers that were offered to bettors as prop wagers in those contests. That means those who basically bet against Porter would have cashed in, because he left those games before reaching the lines set by sportsbooks for his points and rebounds in those contests.

Some sportsbooks have said they were alerted to odd betting patterns surrounding the Porter prop offerings in those games, which means it's likely that the league — which has business relationships with many wagering companies — may have received some of that same information.

“I mean, this is not new that there's unsavory behavior, even illegal behavior, around sports betting,” Silver said. “I guess my point is that to the extent it's going to exist, if you have a regulated environment, you're going to have a better chance of detecting it than you would if all the bets were placed illegally.”

Porter was listed as out, with the team citing personal reasons, for the 10th consecutive game on Wednesday with the Raptors in Brooklyn to take on the Nets. The Raptors finish the season with games at Miami on Friday and Sunday. Porter's absence started almost simultaneously to the revelation that the NBA was probing the betting patterns surrounding his games.

Other items from Silver's news conference:


Silver said he didn't expect the NBA to have a role in the dispute over the proposed ownership transfer of the Minnesota Timberwolves from Glen Taylor to former Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore, but may have to reconsider if it would allow a similar sales process in the future.

Taylor said last month the duo hadn't met all of the deadlines for the condition of the sale and that he was no longer selling. Lore and Rodriguez, who already own about a 40% stake, had agreed to the purchase nearly three years ago. They bought about 20% of the franchise in 2021 and another portion of around 20% in 2023.

Silver said part of the sale structure was necessitated because the deal was struck in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think let’s wait to see how this one works out, but it’s certainly not ideal to have a stepped transaction like this,” Silver said. “It met our rules from that standpoint, and it’s what Glen Taylor wanted and it’s what they were willing to agree to at the time. But I think once the dust clears on this deal, it may cause us to reassess what sort of transactions we should allow.”


Silver said foul calls dropped by about four per game later in the season after a series of high-scoring games in the first half. A night after the Boston Celtics became the first team in NBA history to attempt no free throws and combined with the Milwaukee Bucks for a record-low two attempts in a game, Silver said the league likes the way the games look now.

“I think there was a sense earlier in the season that there was too much of an advantage for the offensive players, whether — I think Steve Kerr said offensive players were using themselves as projectiles or hunting for fouls, however you want to call it. So that was a point of emphasis on behalf of the league,” Silver said.

“So yes, there was a bit of an adjustment made along the way. But again, the context is two fouls per team per game, and the end result, most importantly, we think is a better game.”


Silver reiterated that the NBA won't move forward with any expansion plans until it has completed its new media rights deals. The league is currently in an exclusive negotiating period with its two main partners, the Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery, and he said talks had been positive.

Seattle and Las Vegas have long been speculated as the cities that will get teams when the league grows beyond its current 30 teams. But Silver said all prospective buyers have been told the league isn't ready yet.

“There aren’t private conversations happening right now,” Silver said. “No one has an inside track to getting a deal done, that at the time we will, with our committee, look at the cities that are interested, talk to the groups that are interested and then go from there.”