NEW ORLEANS – Adam Silver kept his focus on the game but hinted at some changes to the business during his first news conference as NBA commissioner.
From the look of the draft to the look of the uniforms, Silver touched on a number of topics during his remarks that ran about 40 minutes. He replaced David Stern on Feb. 1 and replaced Stern’s old format Saturday, standing at a podium instead of sitting at a table.
Silver would like to raise the age limit but isn’t sure there is a need to change the lottery that precedes the draft. Expansion isn’t a current priority — domestically or internationally — but lengthening the All-Star break might be considered.
“This is a fabulous league that has its best years still ahead of it,” Silver said.
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Among his ways to improve it:
• The draft: Silver said everywhere he goes “people dislike so-called one and done,” referring to players who go to college for one year to meet the league’s age minimum of being one year out of high school and 19 . He favors pushing the age minimum to 20.
“It is my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people, for a longer amount of time before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league,” he said. “And I know from a competitive standpoint that’s something as I travel the league I increasingly hear from our coaches, especially, who feel that many of even the top players in the league could use more time to develop even as leaders as part of college programs.”
• The length of the season: He likes the existing 82-game format, but will look at the idea of longer break at midseason. The league shuts down Friday to Monday for All-Star weekend.
• The jerseys: “From a fan standpoint, the greatest indicator is how are they selling, and I’ll say we’re having trouble keeping them in stores,” said Silver, referring to the somewhat-maligned sleeved jerseys that will be worn in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
• Expansion: “It’s not on the top of my list right now,” Silver said, because he said all 30 teams weren’t healthy financially at this point. “My job is to ensure that 30 teams are healthy and competitive, and so that’s what my priority is right now as opposed to expansion.”
• The salary cap: Owners fought for a hard cap like the NFL in 2011, as opposed to the current NBA system that allows teams to exceed it through the use of exceptions. “I would like a harder (cap) system to distribute players better, as opposed to the tax system we have in place now,” Silver said.