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Adam Silver sets NBA’s agenda for upcoming labor talks

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LAS VEGAS — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that the league has entered “the very early stages” of labor negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association as each side have the power to opt out of the present collective bargaining agreement in December.

In a wide-ranging news conference following Board of Governors meetings on the Las Vegas Summer League, Silver said that he expected issues reminiscent of trade requests, the age limit, load management and the length of the 82-game schedule to return up through the next round of talks.

The commissioner touted the NBA’s “upbeat” meetings and robust financial rebound from the pandemic — noting a record $10 billion in revenue for the 2021-22 season — and said he anticipated that the upcoming 2022-23 season would unfold on its standard schedule despite the pandemic’s lingering presence.

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But Silver stressed that he wasn’t pleased by ongoing trade requests registered by outstanding players reminiscent of Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, adding that he didn’t want “the sport to be a sideshow” to off-court intrigue over player movement.

“We don’t prefer to see players requesting trades and seeing it play out the way in which it’s,” Silver said. “The basketball was unbelievable this past season. I don’t need to be naive, but I might love the main target to be on the play on the ground. … This must be a two-way street. Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players. The expectation is a return that they’ll meet their end of the cut price.”

Because a single trade request like Durant’s can impact his teammates and the players on rival teams who could be traded for him and even mentioned in rumors, Silver argued that the NBA and NBPA should share a “mutuality of interest” in “having more stability.”

Meanwhile, the NBA’s age limit — which has stood at 19 since 2006 — will probably be reassessed within the upcoming talks. Though Silver preferred increasing the age limit to twenty when he succeeded David Stern as commissioner in 2014, he said he now believes it should drop to 18 due to “societal changes” and the NCAA’s implementation of Name, Image and Likeness rules.

“I believe that [lowering the age limit] will probably be the precise thing to do,” Silver said. “I’m hopeful that that’s a change we make on this next collective bargaining cycle.”

During a gathering of the NBA’s technology partners Monday, Silver decried the strategic resting of players and questioned whether it produced real health advantages. Singling out San Antonio Spurs executive R.C. Buford for popularizing the practice, which has turn into referred to as load management, Silver argued that that was “nothing more frustrating for our fans.”

Yet the Board of Governors voted Tuesday to permanently incorporate the play-in tournament into the league’s postseason schedule. Adopted in 2020 and expanded in 2021, the play-in tournament features eight teams competing for the ultimate 4 spots within the 16-team postseason field. The league is weighing a possible midseason tournament as well, further adding to the burden placed on players.

“I’m not seeking to shorten the season, however it’s a conversation we should always all have,” Silver acknowledged Tuesday. “What’s optimal by way of variety of games on a player’s body? Let’s be realistic about that.”

The commissioner added that the following labor talks could produce language that adds “additional incentives” right into a player’s contract based on the variety of “games played and the outcomes of those games.”

In a more immediate development, the Board of Governors voted to extend penalties for “transition take fouls,” intentional fouls committed in an effort to stop a fast-break opportunity without making a “legitimate” play on the ball. Last season, defensive players committed greater than 1,700 take fouls, a year-over-year increase of 55 percent, in response to league data.

The league’s recent approach, which will probably be implemented within the 2022-23 season and has been utilized in the G League since 2018, grants a free throw and possession of the ball to the offensive team if a defensive player commits an intentional foul in transition. Under the old rule, the offensive team simply retained possession.

If a defensive player commits a transition foul while attempting to make a play on the ball, he’ll still be assessed a standard foul. Take fouls can even still be allowed through the final two minutes of regulation and any time beyond regulation periods, in order that defensive teams can stop the clock while attempting a comeback or committing a foul to stop their opponents from hitting a game-tying three-pointer.

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The rule change follows last season’s crackdown on “non-basketball moves” by offensive players looking for to attract contact from defenders with “abrupt, overt and abnormal” actions like leg kicks, sharp leaning or sudden stops.

The NBA and NBPA also agreed to institute a joint fund to offer annual payments to roughly 115 former American Basketball Association players who weren’t otherwise eligible for the NBA’s pension program.

To qualify, the previous ABA players needed to have played three years within the skilled league, which existed from 1967 until its 1976 merger with the NBA. The brand new payment program will grant $3,828 per yr of service to every eligible player annually.

“Our players have a real sense of appreciation for many who paved the way in which and helped us achieve the success we enjoy today,” NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio said in an announcement. “We have now all the time considered the ABA players a component of our brotherhood.”

  • Silver said that the NBA and WNBA are “doing every little thing in our power” to bring home WNBA star Brittney Griner, who’s detained in Russia after her February arrest. Griner’s case was highlighted through the NBA Finals and on the WNBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. “Her wife was quoted the opposite day as saying she is satisfied with every little thing the Biden administration is doing without delay,” Silver said. “I truthfully don’t know what more we could be doing.”
  • After moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte due to NBA’s opposition to North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” the league won’t weigh a state’s abortion rights laws when it selects future host cities. “The best impact we will have as a league comes all the way down to how we treat our own employees and our own values, versus moving into other communities and dictating to them what their position needs to be on these issues,” Silver said.
  • While Silver didn’t provide a selected update on the league’s investigation into the Phoenix Suns over allegations that owner Robert Sarver used racist and misogynistic language, he noted that the investigation was within the “last stage.”

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