Adam Silver: Moratorium to remain despite DeAndre Jordan saga

ByKevin Arnovitz ESPN logo
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LAS VEGAS -- NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Tuesday that while the DeAndre Jordan saga "was not a great look" for the league, there are no plans to adjust the nine-day free-agent moratorium period, during which players are permitted to negotiate with teams but not allowed to sign contracts.

"Nobody had a great idea, frankly, in terms of how to change it," Silver said. "I think there was some discussion about whether the moratorium potentially should be a bit shorter. But as I've said the other day, it's an imperfect system. And we still think we're striking the right balance between teams having the opportunity to talk to players when they become free agents and creating certainty at some point when contracts are entered into."

Last week, Jordan reneged on a commitment he made during the moratorium period to join the Dallas Mavericks and instead returned to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The situation has been a hot topic this week in Las Vegas, where NBA executives and owners are convening for the NBA summer meetings and summer league.

The subject of the moratorium was one of several items addressed at the NBA's Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday.

Among the other potential reforms discussed was playoff seeding, which Silver said he expects the league to adopt before next season. Under a new format, the eight postseason teams in each conference would be seeded based on record irrespective of division title. Currently, a division winner is guaranteed a top-four seed.

The practice of "Hack-a-Shaq" was also discussed at Monday's NBA competition committee meeting and at Tuesday's Board of Governors meeting, but there was little collective desire to change the existing rule.

"We came out status quo," Silver said. "We recognize we are an entertainment product and we're competing for eyeballs, number one. It's almost counterintuitive, but the ratings don't show people are tuning it off."

The Board of Governors also took up the matter of widening the two existing "escape lanes" along the baseline, as well as adding two more to reduce the risk of player injury beneath the basket. In Game 4 of last month's NBA Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James cut his head when he fell out of bounds and slammed into a camera.

The NBA will also look into adding a "countdown clock" into quarter breaks and timeouts in order to encourage consistency and clarity in the amount of time elapsed during those periods.

Silver expressed optimism about the arena project in Milwaukee, which could see a vote in the Wisconsin legislature this week. Supporters of the project are reportedly still rounding up votes in the legislature before they move it to the floor of the state Senate for a vote.

The commissioner's office dating back to David Stern's tenure has stated its insistence that Milwaukee have a modern arena by 2017 to keep the Bucks in the city.

"I think it's premature to talk about whether there is give on any deadlines," Silver said. "Obviously, we're keeping all our options open, but it's very much our desire and hope that that team stays in Milwaukee."

About the economic state of the league, Silver challenged an assumption that the National Basketball Players Association will opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement when given the opportunity in 2017.

"You know, I'm not sure if the players' association is going to opt out. Michele [Roberts] made some early remarks suggesting maybe they were leaning that direction, but she hasn't told me that she plans to opt out," Silver said, referring to the executive director of the players' association. "And I know that in discussions that she and I have had and I've had with Players Association representatives, it's clear the goal on both sides is to avoid any sort of work stoppage whatsoever and maybe even to avoid the opt-out."

The league is set to receive a revenue windfall in the coming year when a new national broadcast deal kicks in. In turn, the salary cap will escalate rapidly and could near $90 million for the 2016-17 season.

The collective bargaining agreement between owners and the union stipulates that players receive a fixed percentage of the NBA's overall revenue. If the aggregate salaries committed to players fall short of that amount -- as they currently do -- the owners make up the difference.

Silver said the league, despite being flush with revenue, is bracing for such a result.

"There are projections that for next year we could be writing a check moving close to half a billion dollars to the Players Association," Silver said. "That's not of course the ideal outcome from our standpoint. It's not something we predicted when we went into this collective bargaining agreement."

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