Las Vegas — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is certain that changes are coming to the league.
Some are easy.
Others, not so much.
Speaking after the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday night, Silver said he thinks the league is ready to scrap the rule requiring players to be out of high school for a year before becoming eligible to enter the draft. That one should be relatively simple to move forward now, while notions such as how to find more competitive balance are still a puzzler to the league and its commissioner.
“I’m not here to say we have a problem,” Silver said. “And I love where the league is right now. But I think we can create a better system.”
Part of that better system, he thinks, will be reverting back to the policy that will allow players to go into the league right out of high school — something that should be in place in time for the 2021 NBA Draft, though that timeline has not been formally announced. Silver was a proponent of making the eligibility age older, up to 20 instead of the current 19, though has changed his stance on that in recent weeks.
“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” Silver said. “It won’t come immediately. But when I’ve weighed the pros and cons, given that Condoleezza Rice and her commission have recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and in essence the college community is saying ‘We do not want those players anymore,’ I think that tips the scale in my mind.”
Michele Roberts, the National Basketball Players Association’s newly re-elected executive director — the players’ union announced a new four-year deal for her earlier Tuesday — has had talks with Silver on the topic, though she stopped short of revealing specifics. Any change to the rule will require that the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement will have to be amended.
“Stay tuned,” Roberts said, adding, “I suspect that we’ll have some news in the next few months.”
Now that Silver is on board, that switch should be painless. So, too, will be a relatively minor tweak to free agency rules, that being a likely change to what has been the traditional 12:01 a.m. EDT start time on July 1. Silver said he’s no fan of the all-night news cycle that has accompanied the official start of free agency, and without divulging what will happen he made clear that it’ll be different for 2019.
But creating parity, that one isn’t going to be simple.
Golden State has won three of the last four NBA championships, and this summer saw the Warriors land DeMarcus Cousins for a $5.3 million — a mere pittance by NBA standards for an All-Star, even one recovering from an Achilles’ tear. LeBron James left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, which will likely make the loaded Western Conference even more competitive.
Making the playoffs out West will probably be much tougher than getting there out of the East.
“It’s on me and our labor relations committee ultimately to sit with the players and their committee and convince them that there may be a better way of doing things,” Silver said. “By that, meaning change ultimately in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. … I don’t necessarily think it’s, per se, bad that the Warriors are so dominant. We’re not trying to create some sort of forced parity. What we’re really focused on is parity of opportunity.”
Roberts said she sees no shortage of good teams in the league.
“Competitive balance, it kind of almost depends upon what your favorite team is,” Roberts said. “I don’t hear anyone in the Bay Area worrying about competitive balance. I also don’t hear people in Philadelphia worrying about competitive balance, or Houston. We’ve got great teams. It’s never been the case that I was not able, most of the time, be able to predict who was going to be in the finals.”
Among other matters Silver addressed Tuesday:
■ The governors were briefed on the ongoing talks the league is having with the gaming industry, with sports betting now able to be offered by each state following a ruling in May by the U.S. Supreme Court.
■ Silver called it “embarrassing” that the league currently has only one female referee, and said he’s hopeful that will be changed before long. There are 19 female referees at summer league in Las Vegas this month.
■ The investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct against the Dallas Mavericks should be completed by the end of July, Silver said.