Adam Silver says he didn't pressure last-place 76ers to alter strategy

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Monday, December 21, 2015

In a recent podcast with FiveThirtyEight, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the struggling Philadelphia 76ers were under no pressure from him or owners to change their operations strategy, which included hiring Jerry Colangelo as an adviser earlier this month.

Silver said 76ers owner Josh Harris made the decision to shift course on his own.

"I can tell you that because he and I had many conversations along the way about the utility of the strategy that he was following," Silver told FiveThirtyEight. "And he came to the conclusion, once this season began and he saw how his team was performing on the floor, that he needed to change his strategy. Other owners were not pressuring him at all."

Added Silver: "I mean, for me, if a franchise is managed within the rules of the league, it's acceptable to me. I don't think I should be browbeating owners and saying, 'This is how I think you should manage your team.'"

The 76ers are 38-156 over the last three seasons, including 1-28 this year. There is perception that the 76ers' strategy is to lose games to get the top pick in the NBA draft.

Silver said attitudes around the league about using that approach are changing. He cited the New York Knicks' success this season with Kristaps Porzingis, the fourth overall pick in June's draft.

"You remember at the end of last season, when the Knicks won a couple of those [late] games, how critical the marketplace was at them, saying, 'Well, what are you guys doing? You should be losing those games at the end of the season and give yourselves a better chance at the lottery?'" Silver said. "I mean, maybe [Porzingis] is a once-in-a-generation player. And they got him at the fourth pick. So that only goes to how difficult it is to make these predictions and why a strategy designed to be at the very bottom of the league may not ultimately make the most sense."

Silver also said any discussions about potentially reforming the draft lottery will likely resume before the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players is negotiated, driven by the increase in the salary cap this summer.

The CBA runs through June 30, 2021, but either side could opt out on June 30, 2017. To do so, it would have to notify the other side of its intent by Dec. 15, 2016.

"We're at roughly a $70 million cap now, and we're anticipating going to $90 million, which is a dramatic increase," Silver said. "So I think we're going get an opportunity to look at free agent behavior -- how teams may react in terms of trades, how they may look at the draft differently, really at this summer for the first time."

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