SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Adam Silver on Wednesday attended his first game as commissioner and used Kings-Raptors at Sleep Train Arena as a symbolic gesture to show the league is as committed as ever to getting an arena built despite the transition away from Sacramento guardian angel David Stern.
Silver, the long-time deputy who replaced Stern on Saturday, spoke with certainty that the downtown project would get completed, even as the issue appears headed to the courts after a group attempting to stop public funding for the facility submitted signatures to force a vote in a June election, only to have the petition thrown out on legal grounds. If anything, senior NBA officials, who previously accurately predicted looming lawsuits would have no impact on the decision between Sacramento and Seattle last spring, have said for months that the matter going to a public vote would result in a rousing affirmation in favor of the new arena, although with a cost to the city to put it on the ballot.
“I’m so confident because I’ve known Kevin Johnson for over 20 years,” Silver said. “I knew him as a player, I knew him as a broadcaster and obviously I know him as a mayor now. I’ve sat in literally dozens of meetings with lawyers, political advisors, political leaders, both from Sacramento and California, and talking to (Kings owner) Vivek (Ranadive) and his partners. I’m absolutely confident it’s going to get done.”
In his first week on the job, the attempt to get the age requirement lifted to 20 years old – the current standard to be draft eligible is that U.S. prospects must be a year beyond graduation of their high school class and international players need to turn 19 during the calendar year, emerged as one of the first priorities of the Silver administration. While it is unlikely there will be serious negotiations on the Collective Bargaining Agreement until the National Basketball Players Assn. selects a new executive director, Silver and the league have made their feelings known to the union in the past, including president Chris Paul of the Clippers.
Additionally, Silver called talks on a new media deal, a negotiation so big it is impossible to overstate the importance, “probably the top business priority right now.” As a sign that conversations with networks are about to pick up, he recently named a seven-member media committee as part of the league’s side, according to SportsBusiness Journal: Greg Miller of the Jazz, Michael Reinsdorf (son of Jerry) of the Bulls, James Dolan of the Knicks, Ted Leonsis of the Wizards, Wyc Grousbeck of the Celtics, Peter Holt of the Spurs and Clay Bennett of the Thunder.
“We still have two more years on our current relationships,” Silver said. “But we’re always talking and we have great partnerships with ABC and ESPN on one hand and TNT on the other. We love those partners. We have a great digital relationship with Turner Sports. I’d love to stay with those partners, but we’ll see.”
Silver plans to be in Oakland on Thursday for Bulls-Warriors.