Posts Tagged ‘Adam Silver’

Blogtable: Three Words, Whole Story

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Fixing the Pistons | Take a break | Three simple words



VIDEO: Durant wins Kia Player of the Month honors for January

Give us three words to describe the NBA season so far.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comHobbled, for all the injuries to notable players. Warped, for the East-least, West-best tilt. And Reaped, for Kevin (the Slim Reaper) Durant’s rather large and cold-blooded step up to MVP favorite.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comIt’s Durant’s world.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comInjuries really suck (stink).

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comWhere’s the doctor?

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: “Threes and D.” The league is shooting more 3-pointers than ever and floor spacing is so critical to any offense. But the Indiana Pacers have the best record in the league because they’re so much better defensively than any other team.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: New World Order … from Kevin Durant’s MVP takeover to the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns all challenging the power structure in their respective conferences, these upstarts made the first half of the season enjoyable. Even Adam Silver taking over the big chair from David Stern speaks to a certain changing of the guard that is going on right now and perhaps this season, if those teams can carry what they’ve done thus into the postseason. I’ll say this, without them the first half of the season would have been miserable to digest. Our entire focus would have been on overanalyzing the Miami Heat, all of the injuries to star players and the dysfunction run amok in New York (both the Knicks and Nets early on, even though the Nets have regained their composure here the last month or so). But instead, we’ve had some fresh faces and new storylines to keep us busy. And that’s always a good thing.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blogPass to Durant! There have been surprises in Portland and from several players, but as great as Kevin Durant has been in the past, I don’t think anyone suspected the sustained level of production we’ve seen from him this season. He alone has made every Thunder game must-see TV.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA GreeceTwo words: Antetokoumpo-mania!  Or does that count as one?

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA BrasilSlim Reaper Cometh“, or something like that. This “first half” of the NBA season had a lot of surprises – from Indiana and Portland running away with the conference leads in the first couple of months to Phoenix playing like a true playoff contender, to New York, Cleveland and Minnesota playing way below expectations and Brooklyn taking so long to work things out. But the story of 2013-14 for now is how Kevin Durant rose to the next level. Hitting 50-40-90 last season was amazing, but now KD has shown improvement in all areas, especially in leadership, and has taken the Oklahoma City Thunder to new heights. Now, there is an argument on who the best player in the world is, and right now at this moment, the answer is Kevin Durant.

Simon Legg, NBA AustraliaReally open season!‘ For the first time in a few years, we have a number of contenders, so the league is in a good space right now.

All-Star Snub Adds Spice For Dragic


VIDEO: Dragic’s big night

Keep an eye on Goran Dragic and see if he happens to put a little extra spicy salsa on those shots and passes in the Taco Bells Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night.

After all, the fact that he isn’t playing on Sunday with the West All-Stars might be harder to swallow than a plate of jalapeños.

The Suns’ point guard is 16th in the league in scoring (20.4 points a game), 17th in assists, (6.1), sixth in true shooting percentage (61.5), and his PER of 22.8 is 12th in the NBA. He is tied for 10th in win shares (7.0) with Chris Paul.

When new boss Adam Silver made his first public move as commissioner to add a dash of home-cooking by naming New Orleans’ forward Anthony Davis as a replacement for injured guard Kobe Bryant, it was just one more elbow nudge in the ribs.

“Oh yes, I was full of emotions,” Dragic said. “I was a little bit mad, angry, disappointed. All of those words. There it is. I think I did my job.

“If it happened it would have been a dream come true. It would mean a lot because I would know that I worked hard and it is way to be told I am on the right track.”

Not that the 27-year-old from Slovenia has done anything but barrel down the track like a locomotive in his sixth season in the league and his second as a full-time starter in Phoenix. While the Suns are a varied and interesting mix of young talent under first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek, there is no question that Dragic has been the spark to their offensive engine with his scoring, passing and running of the offense.

Even in the absence of injured backcourt partner Eric Bledsoe, Dragic has kept the Suns going forward as the surprise team of the league. Picked by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win 21.5 games and thought by most as a club that was getting into position for a high lottery pick, the Suns have already won 30 to hold down the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference going into Tuesday’s home game against the defending champion Heat (9 p.m. ET, League Pass). That’s more wins than every team in the entire Eastern Conference except for Indiana and Miami.

And the Suns don’t have a single representative in the All-Star Game.

All the talk about winning be the only real stat that counts, yet Kevin Love of the disappointing Timberwolves was voted into the starting lineup by the fans and then Dragic was overlooked as a reserve, first by vote of the coaches, and then by Silver.

“I don’t want to complain or put myself ahead of any other player,” Dragic said. “I am trying not to think about what happen and just trying to concentrate and win as many games as we can and hopefully make that push for the playoffs. That will be my statement.”

Yet the incongruity and, well, hypocrisy of it all is something that all of the Suns have trouble digesting. The snub had been extended to the rest of the roster until Miles Plumlee was a late replacement added to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night of the All-Star Weekend schedule.

“When a team has a guy make the All-Star team, it’s not only a testament to what that guy does, but also his teammates,” Hornacek said. “You don’t become an All-Star if you don’t have any good teammates. Someone’s got to throw you the ball. Someone’s got to help you out. The fact is, if he made it, it ought to be a sign that, hey, we’re a team that’s above .500 and weren’t supposed to be and that reflects on the whole team. I still think we’ve got a pretty good team.”

It’s been a dramatic rise for Dragic just 2 1/2 years after he entered the 2011-12 season in Houston No. 3 on the Rockets depth chart at point guard. When Kyle Lowry was injured, he got his chance to start 28 games, and that laid a foundation for what Dragic is doing now.

“It was my first year that I got a lot of minutes,” he said. “Now it’s so much clearer, so much easier for me because I know how the game is going to go and when I have to take my shot. I’m not rushing. It’s just a good fit and I’m just happy that I’m back and part of the Phoenix Suns organization. They did a lot for me. I’m never going to forget that they drafted me and give me my first chance in the NBA.”

And there’s a part of him that won’t forget being overlooked for the All-Star team.

“I can’t be angry now,” Dragic said. “I must let that go. But what I can do is to focus on finishing the season strong, help get our team into the playoffs, then see what we can do there. That would be the best way to talk.”

All-Star Davis Gives N.O. Added Flavor

VIDEO: Anthony Davis’ top 10 plays

Not that the NBA All-Star Game is ever lacking in fireworks or flash or big names, yet it’s always a bit more fun when there is a hometown connection: Tom Chambers rolling to an MVP award before a jam-packed crowd at the vast Kingdome in Seattle in 1987, Michael Jordan at Chicago Stadium in 1988, Karl Malone and John Stockton working their magic in Salt Lake City in 1993, Kobe Bryant touching base with his Philly roots in 2002.

The 2014 All-Star Game got the spice and flavor of a hot bowl of gumbo when Pelicans’ forward Anthony Davis was named as a replacement for the injured Bryant on the Western Conference roster by new commissioner Adam Silver.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

But it was more than just a case of home-cooking since Davis has been performing at an All-Star level from the beginning of his second NBA season, and was probably the biggest snub by the vote of the coaches when the reserves were originally named.

Davis is averaging 20.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and leads the league with 3.3 blocked shots per game and shooting 51.8 percent from the field. He’s grown in confidence and stature at the offensive end, compiling a greatest hits collection of slam dunks, while also making jaw dropping blocked shots far out on the perimeter as a defensive beast.

In January, Davis blocked 51 blocked shots in 15 games. That was more than the total compiled by three entire NBA teams: Heat (50), Cavaliers (48) and Jazz (48). Through the first 101 games of Davis’s career, he had 233 blocks and 132 steals. The only player since 1985-86 to match those numbers in his first 101 games was Spurs Hall of Famer David Robinson. Davis is also on pace to become the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 to average 20-10-3 for an entire season.

Davis will also take part in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night of All-Star Weekend. He was the No. 1 pick by Team Chris Webber.

“I would love to be an All-Star,” Davis said in a recent conversation. “It would show that the hard work I’ve been putting into my game during the offseason and every day in practice are paying off.

“It would also bring more attention to our team, the entire Pelicans organization and make a statement, I think, that we’ve got a plan to get better and become a contender in the league. I’ve had great support from the city since I’ve joined the team and making the All-Star team would be an extra bit of excitement for everybody in New Orleans during an exciting weekend.”

Goran Dragic and the world of Suns fans will surely feel slighted that Silver didn’t replace Bryant with another guard. Their valid argument will be that the Suns have a winning record and the Pelicans are below .500. But it never hurts to have the flavor of home in an All-Star Game.

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 6


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Feb. 5

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Clippers could pursue James | Aldridge interested in deal with Blazers | Silver backs Kings’ new arena | Gay unsure if he’ll stay with Sacramento

No. 1: Report: Clips could make serious push for James – The Miami Heat’s “Big Three” of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James was formed in the summer of 2010 to the surprise of many. Thanks to many small moves that took place before the opening of free agency that year, the Heat positioned themselves to make Bosh and James — then with the Raptors and Cavs, respectively — albeit lesser offers to get them to team up with Wade in Miami. The rest has been history: three Finals trips, two championships and two Finals MVPs for James. But James can opt out of his deal this summer and, if he chooses to do so, the speculation and wondering about his future will start anew. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, who covered James for The Plain Dealer during LeBron’s Cleveland days, has a lengthy read on how the Los Angeles Clippers — not the Lakers — could be the top suitor for LeBron (and perhaps LeBron’s top target as well):

The incumbent Heat have done everything possible to keep James long term, including surrounding him with Hall of Fame talent and winning two championships. The logical and gut read is, five months from now, James will have recommitted to staying in Miami, either by not opting out of his contract or re-signing long term.

But as James and the Heat visit the Los Angeles Clippers on this Feb. 5, the lessons from the past are a reminder to be careful making assumptions at midseason. Especially when it comes to James.

“This time is going to be different,” a source close to James said about James’ view of free agency. “If LeBron decides to look at other options it won’t just be teams with cap space. He has 30 options if he wants them.”

Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cavs — two teams that have been mentioned as suitors for James this summer — the Clippers will not have open cap space. They will not have the cap space to sign James as a maximum-level free agent. It would require a sign-and-trade if James ever got serious about the option. In short, it would take the Heat’s cooperation.

For this reason, the Clippers are not on the national radar as a potential location for James if he decides to look around. It is unconventional to consider it. But what the Heat did to land James four years ago was not conventional, either. They were able to make some remarkable last-minute trades — a detail that largely goes overlooked in history — then convinced three stars in their primes to take pay cuts so they could play together. That is also a feat that remains unmatched by any of their peers.

The takeaway from that operation: Don’t assume anything and don’t underestimate competition.

Stemming from that experience, while James is content for the time being, he does not plan to close any doors. … Now more emboldened and self-assured, James has more power and perspective than ever before.

“LeBron is not thinking about free agency right now, he’s totally focused on the season,” said one James associate. “In the summer he knows he can get to any team he wants to.”

If the results of this season ended up with James looking at the Clippers and the Heat were eventually forced to cooperate, league executives believe Miami would ask for Blake Griffin. But neither the Heat nor the Clippers at this juncture, slightly more than halfway through a season that finds both teams believing they’re capable of winning the title, are prepared to discuss such a hypothetical scenario as they try to keep the focus off the future.

Under any scenario, the Clippers would have to make another maneuver to make a sign-and-trade work, primarily to shed some salary to get under the luxury tax. But it is not that complicated. The bottom line is this: If the Clippers were interested and James got interested, there’s a deal that could be done whether it involves Griffin or another package of players.

It should also not be taken for granted the Heat will want to keep the status quo. While they certainly want to keep James, it is possible they will use the potential free agency of their stars to go shopping themselves and perhaps reshuffle their roster by actively seeking their own sign-and-trades.

James, Wade and Bosh all have the option to become free agents this summer and all have different situations. Wade, who just turned 32, has battled knee issues over the past few years. He would not be able to command the same $42 million he’s owed through 2016 in a new contract. The Heat, however, will likely ask him to opt out so they can perhaps extend and restructure his contract to help manage the rest of the team.

The Heat are facing the reality of being the first team in history to have to pay what is known as the repeater tax, an added penalty for being a luxury tax team four out of five years. To put this in perspective, this season the Heat are about $10 million over the tax line and paying about $15.5 million in taxes. If they are at the same area next year, they would pay about $26 million in taxes alone.

If Bosh, Wade and James all decline to accept pay cuts, the three of them will alone account for $61 million. If James and Bosh request pay increases, they can each make about $21 million, which is where you can see how the Heat would be greatly helped if Wade was willing to redo his deal and accept a pay cut. James, Wade and Bosh have worked well together and all seem content. But it is hard to predict how they will feel by the summer. If all three want to maximize their earnings, the Heat will be in a challenging position both in terms of money and flexibility in the coming seasons.

The Heat and general manager/cap specialist Andy Elisburg have handled the cap masterfully in the past but have needed the cooperation of players. Wade has already cautioned, though, not to expect history to repeat.

“There are different times and different mindsets that you deal with. That was 2010,” Wade said earlier this season. “I’m not saying that LeBron James or Chris Bosh, if they get the opportunity again, are going to leave $17 million on the table [as they did in 2010]. No one can say they should do that. You have to do what is best for you.”


VIDEO: LeBron James and Blake Griffin put on a show in L.A.

***

No. 2: Aldridge open to new deal with Blazers As has always been the case in the NBA, winning often does wonders to quash talk of either trade rumors or a player seeking greener pastures. A little less than two years ago, Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge was hearing his name tossed about in trade rumors. But with Portland fighting with Oklahoma City and San Antonio for the West’s top record, that buzz has died down and, in fact, gone the other direction. According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Aldridge is reportedly open to signing a long-term extension with the Blazers, something that was previously thought to be a tough sell:

Back in Portland, the tale of Aldridge’s day-to-day happiness is big news. Here, in a quaint gym on the campus of Baruch College, it was the last thing on his mind — or anyone else’s.

But the reality is, Aldridge now openly discussing his desire to entertain a contract extension with the Trail Blazers should be big news. That’s because getting Aldridge to a place where he is surrounded by winning talent, with an organization that is well positioned to sustain its surprising success, was a monumental achievement.

“As a player I feel like I have a good mind-set about this, just making sure that I’m not taken for granted and making sure that we’re in a good place,” Aldridge told CBSSports.com on Tuesday after the Blazers practiced in Manhattan to prepare for Wednesday night’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

After two straight years out of the playoffs and so much bad luck with Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, the Blazers are back. They’ve faded in January after an impossibly hot start, but GM Neil Olshey steadying what had been a sinking ship to the point where Aldridge now wants to stick around is nothing short of remarkable.

“Winning and happiness and making sure my worth is valued,” Aldridge said, when asked what he will prioritize when it comes time to decide his future. “It’s always nice to be noticed for doing good things.”

It was only a few months ago when word was spreading on the NBA grapevine that Aldridge had seen enough in Portland and wanted out. And truly, who could’ve blamed him? The Blazers’ window certainly appeared to have slammed shut, their decline all but assured.

But Olshey has done in Portland for Aldridge what he did for Chris Paul in Los Angeles: He made it a place where a star wants to stay. From the drafting of Damian Lillard to the hiring of Terry Stotts to the revamping of the bench this past summer, the Blazers are on a sustainable path. They’ve acquired talent and cap flexibility without squandering assets. They have front-office stability, too, after years of unrest.

Though he’ll make his third All-Star appearance later this month in New Orleans, this is the one Aldridge said he feels the best about.

“I’m just healthy,” he said. “Two summers ago, I had my hip scope done and I had to rehab from that. So last season I was thankful for being an All-Star, but I was still coming off that injury. This summer I was healthy. I had more time to work out, I got my conditioning up and I’ve just felt better.”

***

No. 3: New commish Silver backs Kings’ arena plans New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been on the job a week or so, and last night he took in the Raptors-Kings game from Sleep Train Arena. Just last week, the team released the first official renderings for their new arena downtown, which is scheduled to begin construction this summer. Silver obviously has seen the plans and as our own Scott Howard-Cooper reports, he’s impressed with what the future holds for the Kings:

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.”

***

No. 4: Gay unsure if he’ll opt in with Kings — Since being traded from Toronto to Sacramento 19 games into the season, Rudy Gay has done a solid job with the Kings, averaging 20.8 ppg and averaging 52.5 percent while leading the team to an 11-14 mark (they started the season 6-14). Gay has a player option on his contract this summer, but as he tells ESPN.com’s Marc Stein in a brief Q&A session, he’s unsure if he’ll opt in or not:

Q: Why has the move made such a dramatic difference in your game individually?

A: I don’t know, man. I just think in Toronto we didn’t have enough time to actually get rolling. Here I’m just back to being me, that’s all.

Q: What exactly does “back to being me” mean?

A: Just being free. Just going out there and making plays for myself and others. Coach [Mike Malone] is putting me in different situations. He’s trusting me with the ball, trusting me to make plays for others, and also the guys around me are trusting me to do that for them.

Q: Which way are you leaning in terms of opting into your contract for next season or opting out?

A: I’m not sure. I have to go into the summer with my people, think about everything, weigh out the pros and cons. I don’t know yet. But Sacramento’s been great to me thus far. Obviously I’m trying to tune it all out right now. All I can think about right now is how great Sacramento’s been to me.

Q: How hard has it been to watch Toronto kind of take off without you?

A: It’s not [hard]. I love those guys. DeMar [DeRozan] just texted me five minutes ago … literally. We’ll always be brothers. That’s my little brother. I love to see him have this success [and make the East All-Star squad]. He’s been in the doghouse of the NBA for a long time. I think now he’s getting his just due.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Injured Rockets big man Omer Asik could be cleared to return to practice in 7-10 daysChris “Birdman” Andersen is beginning to find his rhythm again for the Heat … Magic Johnson says he’s plenty willing to help recruit free agents to the Lakers … The Nets expect to have Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche in uniform tonight against the Spurs … Speaking of the Nets, point guard Shaun Livingston credits reading the book ‘Siddhartha’ with his turnaround this season … Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins called Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy a clown after the Bulls-Kings game Sunday, and Dunleavy didn’t like that too much …

ICYMI of the Night: Lotsa folks got dunked on last night (we’re looking at you Greg Steimsma, Zaza Pachulia and John Henson, Robbie Hummel, Meyers Leonard and Jonas Jerebko), but our favorite play was this twisting reverse layup off an alley-oop by Blake Griffin


VIDEO: Blake Griffin contorts himself to finish off the alley-oop with a layup

Silver Continues Sacramento Backing


VIDEO: Commissioner Adam Silver’s comments in Sacramento

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.

Adam Silver Receives Early Advice

Days into taking over the NBA Commissioner post, Adam Silver has plenty of people offering suggestions.

Days into taking over the NBA Commissioner post, Adam Silver has plenty of people offering suggestions.

Where to start, where to start?

Eliminate tanking or erase the U.S. debt? Resolve the Seattle dilemma or cure the common cold? Change the schedule or the weather?

Adam Silver took over as commissioner on Saturday with a lot of pressure, though at least a lot of free advice from the rest of the world, a fact that no doubt made him so, so happy. You’re welcome.

Several prominent figures around the league chipped in as part of a Bleacher Report suggestion box to coincide with Silver replacing David Stern. Some were good thoughts worth debating and maybe even seriously consider. (Others: eh. One section was titled “Figure out the situations in Seattle and Sacramento” without sound words dispensed on exactly how to close the distance between hope and actual in Seattle. Plus, the situation in Sacramento is well down the path to being figured out.)

From Ray Allen of the Heat: “I would give, some way, every team a bye week. Between a bye week and making All-Star weekend an All-Star week. Because the problem I see with the league is there’s fatigue, and guys end up getting injuries. There should be a window where guys can have time off. We say All-Star weekend, but if you’re competing, you never get the opportunity to have time off, because All-Star weekend is jam-packed with activity. And it puts the guys that are playing or competing in such a quandary, because now you don’t want to do certain things, and you want to go on vacation. So if you make it a week, I think you almost get full participation of players.”

Participation at All-Star weekend isn’t an issue because rules are already in place to, um, encourage that, but point taken. The schedule is an issue, there is little chance teams will give up games/money, and so something else must be done. Playing four times in five nights, an accepted necessity these days, hurts the product on the court.

It would mean starting the season sooner because simply shoe-horning in a league-wide bye week in the current calendar would create more games jammed together, not solve the problem. Giving teams different weeks off potentially creates problems – getting the bye close to the playoffs is a huge advantage – and there couldn’t be anything like four teams idle at the same time because scheduling is tough enough with 29 choices for an opponent. But breathing room would be nice.

Agent David Falk: “In the long term, (an idea that) David Stern shared with me many years ago was that at some point in time, the NBA will start the season right after the Super Bowl…and go through the baseball All-Star Game. Play about 60 games. And at that point in time, the season will end. And then you’ll start another season in Europe. You’ll have 25, 30 teams in Europe, in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, Athens, Paris. And if you are a young Kevin Durant and you want to play all year round and get paid for it, you’ll play both venues. If you are Kevin Garnett and you want to win one more championship with Kobe Bryant, you’re only going to play one of those venues. …”

Very interesting. But it’s not going to happen. Negotiating the new TV deals with the different networks is the major issue in front of Silver, and the league is not going to give up that many games, just as owners don’t want to lose the gate, for the uncertainty of what may or may not come of the Europe gamble.

Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins: “What I’d like to see changed is the amount of time that we are able to work with our players during the offseason. Obviously this is something that would need to be collectively bargained with the players association, but I think it is something that would benefit both the players and the teams. As it stands now, from a few days after the season ends until the start of training camp, there are no official or organized workouts with the players. This is unlike the NFL, which has offseason workouts and mini-camps.

“As a result, you can go up to five months without seeing some of your players since anything they do with teams in the offseason is voluntary. It would help players with their physical conditioning, as well as their on-court basketball skills if there was more opportunity to work with them. …”

While going that long without connecting with a player if the team wants to is a rarity – assistant coaches and trainers routinely travel the world to spend time with players at home in the offseason – the idea has a lot of merit. It could lead to improved quality of play. Good luck getting the union to go along.

TNT analyst Steve Kerr, a former player and general manager: “I would hope the owners wouldn’t be shy about going to the players union and saying: Hey, let’s change the draft rule. Let’s make it the baseball rule, or let’s do two years instead of one. Let’s work together so that players come into this league more prepared. And in return we’ll give you guys this. We’ll concede on these issues that will help you make more money or that will help the guys who stay for two years, who come out of college, maybe their rookie scale goes up. … The idea obviously is that they’ve got to be better prepared. I mean, the fact that the No. 1 pick in the draft (Anthony Bennett) can’t even get on the floor, that’s pretty scary. And if you look at the last few years, so few rookies have actually made an impact. And that’s worrisome.”

Discussion on the age limit appears inevitable, with reasonable cases to be made for raising the standard or keeping it in place or even, in an unlikely outcome, going back to the old system that U.S. players could enter the draft out of high school. It is an issue before Silver one way or another.

Morning Shootaround — Jan. 29


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 27

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Grizz continue to find their way | Davis boosts his All-Star hopes | LeBron wants to talk with Silver | Shumpert injures shoulder in Knicks’ win

No. 1: Grizz get back into their grinding groove — If you gave up on Memphis a few weeks or months ago after their slow-out-of-the-gate start to the season, you may want to start tuning in to their games again. As our own Fran Blinebury pointed out yesterday, Memphis is getting back to its “Grindhouse” ways. That was plenty apparent last night as the Grizz marched into Portland and handed the Blazers, who boast the league’s fifth-best home record, a resounding 98-81 defeat. Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal has more on Memphis continued rise:

The Grizzlies didn’t yield a point for the first two minutes, 20 seconds of their game Tuesday night, and the defensive chokehold just got tighter and tighter.

Memphis held the NBA’s highest scoring team well below its average and started a three-game road trip with a 98-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers (33-13) entered the game putting up 109 points on 45.5 percent shooting per contest. But the Griz (23-20) held the Blazers to a season-low point total on just 34.5 percent shooting.

“Our confidence is back,” Griz point guard Mike Conley said. “We believe we’re a good team. We believe we can beat anybody. We kind of lost that. But everybody feels comfortable again and we’re playing hard.”

About four minutes into the fourth quarter, Portland’s television play-by-play announcer pointed out that the Blazers scored on back-to-back possessions just six times in the game.

The Griz simply kept the Blazers misfiring on the perimeter, and contested every shot in the lane. Portland missed its first 12 three-point attempts and was shooting 36 percent through three quarters while Memphis took an 81-58 lead into the final frame.

“We’re just starting to click,” Griz coach Dave Joerger said. “The cement hasn’t really dried.”

The Griz are certainly making an imprint. They’ve won three straight games and eight of the last nine. Memphis also ended Portland’s five-game home winning streak.

Since center Marc Gasol returned from a left MCL sprain, the Griz are 6-1 and have allowed 85 points per game.

“We were playing like ‘When is Marc coming back?’ as opposed to just playing basketball to the best of our ability and see what happens,” Griz forward Tayshaun Prince said. “But now that we have Marc back you can see a different comfort zone with our team. A lot of guys are playing at a high level. More importantly, we’re playing together.”

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No. 2: Pelicans’ Davis boosts his All-Star resumeKevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have the starting gigs nailed down for the Western Conference All-Star squad. Picking the guys who back them up? That’s something that isn’t easy, especially considering the frontcourt/power forward/center depth there is in the West. One such name that’s been bandied about for a bench spot is the New Orleans Pelicans’ uber-forward Anthony Davis. He didn’t do anything to hurt his reserve bid last night, writes John Reid of The Times Picayune, after a dominating performance against the Cavs:

With time running out to impress enough of the league’s coaches to earn a selection as a reserve in the Feb. 16 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, Pelicans forward Anthony Davis didn’t miss another opportunity to make his case.Davis dominated with eight blocks and 30 points to help Pelicans rout the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-89 on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the third 30-point performance of Davis’ career. Davis dislocated his left index finger in the monstrous effort but doesn’t expect to miss playing time….

“I’m just trying to get better each and every day,” Davis said. “My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and giving me a chance to score. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, has totaled 27 blocks and averaged 21.8 points in the past five games. He relied on his arsenal of shots — from quick pull-up jumpers to dunks — and didn’t miss many attempts. He made 12 of 18 of shots and had 24 points after three quarters.

Some of Davis’ dominant play came against rookie Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. He played extended minutes for the first time and scored a season-high 15 points. But Davis overshadowed his effort.

“He’s a very talented individual,” Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said of Davis. “He kind of messes up your rotations just because he can space (the floor) so well and he plays the game the right way.

“Coach (Williams) did a heck of a job running continuity plays for him and he was catching it in rhythm and knocking down shots. You have to give credit to a good performance by him.”


VIDEO: Anthony Davis runs wild as the Pelicans take down the Cavs

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No. 3: LeBron wants to talk with new commish Silver – The NBA is just a few weeks away from the official retirement of David Stern (which, if you haven’t read our David Aldridge’s oral history of his career, you’re missing out) and from Adam Silver taking over as the NBA’s new boss. Silver will of course become infinitely more busy than he already is and one superstar is already hoping to earmark some time to talk with him once he officially takes office, writes Sam Amick of USA Today:

The Miami Heat star said Tuesday that he’s in the process of making a wish list of sorts that he will eventually share with Silver, the deputy commissioner who began with the league more than 20 years ago and who has held his current position (as well as Chief Operating Officer) since 2006.

“Um, I’m making (a list),” James said. “I don’t know if I want to make it public knowledge right now, but hopefully I can sit down with the Commish – the soon to be Commish – and just throw out some ideas where I feel like the league can be better, and hopefully he has some ideas for me to see on my part.”

James, who said he planned to schedule a formal meeting with Silver, lauded Stern for the job he has done and gave Silver a warm welcome.

“I think (Silver) is great,” James said. “The opportunities I’ve had to be around him as he’s been the assistant commish, he’s been amazing. He’s easy to talk to. He’s someone that understands the business, who understands what the game of basketball means to everyone – the owners, the players, the coaches, everyone. Everyone included, the whole pie. I’m looking forward to him. I’m excited for him, and best of luck to him. Hopefully he can get 30 years in too like David was able to get. Who knows what his 30 years can do for the game.”

As for the changes he envisions and may seek, he hinted that they are minor.

“We don’t need major change,” James said. “This game has grown from just being in America to over almost 300 countries right now…But the game can always be bigger. There’s a lot of people who love the game who are not able to watch the game, so I feel we can broadcast it in more countries as well and continue to inspire people that want to play the game, who love the game. It’s the greatest game in the world to me. Obviously I’m biased, because I’m in it, but you know the things that we’re able to do out on the floor to inspire people is unbelievable.”

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No. 4: Knicks’ Shumpert suffers shoulder injuryNew York got some good news during last night’s win over the Celtics as power forward Kenyon Martin returned to the lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury. But just four minutes into the Boston game, the Knicks saw guard Iman Shumpert suffer a shoulder injury and leave the game. How long Shumpert will be out for remains unknown, writes Ian Bagley of ESPNNewYork.com:

Knicks guard Iman Shumpert suffered a sprained right shoulder in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Boston Celtics and did not return.The severity of the injury was unclear.

Coach Mike Woodson said after the Knicks’ 114-88 win that he wasn’t sure how long Shumpert would be out for.

Shumpert dealt with shoulder soreness in training camp but has remained relatively healthy throughout the season, playing in every game.

If Shumpert were out for an extended period, J.R. Smith or Tim Hardaway Jr. would likely replace him in the lineup.

In other injury news, veteran Knicks forward Kenyon Martin returned after missing five games with a left ankle injury and re-sprained the ankle in the first half. Martin had earlier aggravated the injury against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 16.

“Just overuse,” the 36-year-old Martin said. “Been going every day and playing a lot of minutes. Just needed a break. Not one thing happened. Just been fighting through it, fighting through it, fighting through it, and the body lets you know. So at my age, you got to listen.”

Martin limped to the locker room late in the second quarter. The Knicks said he was available to return.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Great teaser/snippet for Rick Fox‘s upcoming interview with Phil Jackson on GameTime (Jan. 30, 6 p.m. ET), where the coaching legend talks about Dwight Howard’s game, the state of the Lakers and much, much moreScott Brooks is coaching the West All-Star team for the second time in his career … Is Pistons owner Tom Gores to blame for Detroit’s roster woes? One columnist sure thinks so … Interesting look at how the Most Improved Player voting/winners have been doled out the last few years … If Rajon Rondo signs an extension with the Celtics, what might it look like long term for the team? … The Kings revealed the first renderings for their new arena that’s being built

ICYMI of The Night: We’re still thawing out here at Shootaround Central (aka Atlanta), but this nice hustle play from John Wall to race back and swat Steph Curry warms our hearts…:


VIDEO: John Wall hustles back to deny Steph Curry’s layup attempt

Blogtable: Subtraction Of Divisions

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Down with divisions | Missing in Golden State | Offseason hits and misses


Well, Adam Silver brought it up: Should we do away with divisions?


VIDEO: GameTime discusses Adam Silver’s point about eliminating divisions

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: It’s hard to defend the division format as we’ve come to know it and as it has played out, especially this year. But rolling with big ol’ clumps of 15 teams per conference seems unwieldy to me for what still is the NBA’s meat and potatoes, the regular season. And the hand-wringing over the East this season seems a wee reactionary – this down year is cyclical and flukey, as I see it. How ’bout going the other way and making the divisions mean something, by boosting the number of games played within them? Imagine playing eight games against each division foe (a total of 32) and two against everyone else (50) regardless of conference. I know, that might stink in depriving fans of seeing certain teams and stars come to town more than once. But it would build and enhance rivalries that are so lacking now. So my short answer: No.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I think this is a made up crisis being fueled so that guys like Jeff Van Gundy can set their nonexistent hair on fire.  The Atlantic Division is horrible.  So what?  These things happen in the NFL, MLB and NHL and the world hasn’t ended in those sports.  The key is basing home-court advantage in each round of the playoffs — regardless of seeding — on regular season records.  Get rid of the divisions?  Fine.  Keep the divisions?  Fine.  I just can’t get that excited about the topic.  Not when there far more important issues — teams taking late season dives to manipulate playoff of match-ups and the draft lottery system, to name two — that need scrutiny.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I still like divisions. Admittedly, I never look at the standings by division, only by conference, and I snicker at my local newspaper for still running the standings by division. Still, with so many teams, I still like breaking them down into divisions and letting those teams play each other four times each season. Technically, it should foster rivalries, and has, although that doesn’t seem to be the case so much these days. I would, however, be willing to have a discussion about ditching an automatic playoff spot (and especially a top-four seed) for all division winners. If a division winner’s record falls out of the top eight in the conference (or the top four), then let’s stop gifting it a better spot.

NBA Standings as of Dec. 11, 2013

NBA Standings as of Dec. 11, 2013

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Sure, why not. Not a big deal to have them, not a big deal to eliminate them. Divisions give teams and their fans a chance to celebrate winning something and guarantee the champion a top-tier spot in the playoff seedings, but otherwise have no major purpose. The conference format is what really matters. Neighborhood rivalries will live on while other dramatic possibilities (Miami-Indiana, Oklahoma City-Golden State) will continue to build across division lines. Either way, not a big deal to me.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comThe existence of divisions isn’t the issue. It’s the automatic top-four seed for division winners that is. You can get rid of that and still have divisions for the sake of organization. (I like organization.) You could also just get rid of them altogether, as long as you seed the top eight teams by record (and subsequent tie-breakers that have nothing to do with winning the division).

Sekou Smith, NBA.comNo. Nope and Absolutely not. I agree that the Eastern Conference standings are painful to look at these days, what with all three of those teams with winning records sitting atop the rest of that wreckage that lies East of the Mississippi River. But a new world order for the NBA standings? No way. What happens in a few years when the wind blows the other way and the Western Conference is on the slide? This current downturn in the Eastern Conference won’t last forever. And last I checked, all that dominance during the regular season hasn’t made a difference in the final outcome of the season, the only outcome that really matters. The West might be the best top to bottom, but the best of the very best still resides in Miami.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: I say yes, but with a caveat: This seems like a good time to juggle some of the teams in each Conference — can we get Memphis in the Eastern Conference, for instance? As it stands now, the divisions don’t really have an effect on anything except for determining the top three/four slots in playoff seeding. Also, I guess maybe it makes it easier to read the standings? Either way, we’re living in a world that with technology continues to get smaller. We might as well go from six divisions to what would essentially be two. Or if you want to get really radical, let’s just go to one table, with all the teams in one big league, like they do in soccer in Europe. Now that would be interesting.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: Just between you and me, when I was growing up the divisions really confused me. And now I don’t think that getting rid of them will make for a tremendous change. And by that I mean that at the end — after 82 games — the top 16 teams are the best ones to qualify. Everybody has its chance to win. As years pass we see some divisions become stronger or other lose their competitiveness. But there is always a cycle. So, now that I’m older and (finally) got the way they work — why change them now? (ha)

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: I’ll vouch for that. The divisions have real meaning in the NFL and MLB, where you have to win it to make the Playoffs and there are few wild card spots; in the NBA, they tried to add meaning by making the division winners top seeds, but it doesn’t mean that much, since the team with the better record will still have home-court advantage. The thing about it, though, is that doing away with the divisions doesn’t solve the problem. You will still have four or five teams in the Eastern Conference postseason that really shouldn’t be there while two or three Western Conference teams find themselves on the outside looking in. I always thought it would eventually even out, and in 2009 or 2010 it really looked like the East was finally getting stronger throughout, but outside of that, it’s been almost 20 years of sizable gap between the West and the East. Maybe keep the conferences for scheduling purposes, but end the dual-Conference Playoff; just make it a 16-team tournament between the 16 best teams. Hey, if jet lag is not a factor anymore and the league can play the Finals in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, why not pit a West Coast team against an East Coast team in the first round as well?

Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: I usually am an orderly person, and the division system always helped to be able to maintain a good overview over the league. So this idea of abandoning divisions seemed odd to me at first. But having thought and read about it, this definitely would be the right move. Divisions don’t help the appeal of the league, they don’t fuel rivalries and the travelling can’t be an argument in these days and times. Get rid of them.

Defined In Times Of NBA Tumult, Stern Stepping Down In Tranquility

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NEW YORK – The news of the day surprised few, if they had been following along: Starting in June, the NBA Finals will revert to the 2-2-1-1-1 schedule format currently used in all earlier playoff rounds and for The Finals prior to 1985.

In a nutshell, the reasons for 2-3-2 –- commercial air travel by the teams and catering to newspapers’ travel budgets – no longer are issues for the league, allowing competitive considerations about proper home-court advantage to carry the day. At the Board of Governors meeting that wrapped up in New York Wednesday afternoon, the unanimous recommendation of the competition committee from September was unanimously approved by the NBA’s owners/team reps.

The backstory of it all, though, was more compelling –- this was commissioner David Stern‘s last scheduled Board of Governors session, his last post-BOG news conference. Aside from the closed-door, collective bargaining bloodlettings in which Stern most famously rolled up his sleeves, earned his paychecks and made his bones, these meetings of the 30 team owners ranked a close second in crafting Stern’s reputation across 30 years as NBA commissioner and consummate cat herder. (His bi-annual pressers at The Finals and All-Star weekend placed third, offering glimpses of his many moods and styles to the fans.)

But for his finale, it seemed rather tranquil. For a man whose vision and will shaped the NBA over the past three decades like no others, and whose professional highlight/lowlight reel necessarily would be crammed with lockout moments, talk of “enormous consequences,” subtle verbal jabs and occasional fits of pique, the low-profile business that wrapped Wednesday was awfully tame.

“It is, right?” Stern said as he stepped from the platform, playing along momentarily with the “lightning rod” reputation one wag laid on him during questions and answers. Even Stern knows his best (and worst, equally memorable) moments have come during times of the NBA’s greatest turmoil. But this simply isn’t one of those times.

Business is good. Labor peace prevails at least until 2017. San Antonio’s Peter Holt will continue as BOG chairman. Reports at the BOG from revenue-sharing and collective-bargaining committees were encouraging, as Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver described them. Arena development or renovations are said to be on track in Sacramento, Minnesota, Milwaukee and New York’s Madison Square Garden. And two dozen or more franchises are on track to be profitable by the end of 2014-15, Stern said, assuming they want to be.

“There are some teams who will not be profitable, in many cases because they choose not to by virtue of their payments to either players or coaches or general managers,” he said. “We’re getting to a point that with revenue sharing, teams that are improving their performance will break even or make money, except for those that are ‑‑ I haven’t looked at the Nets’ balance sheet, but my guess is that they’re going to not necessarily be profitable.  But that also involves large payments to build a building as well as large salary, as well as large [luxury] tax payments. But that’s OK.”

The meetings Tuesday and Wednesday might have been as much about Stern’s fast-approaching retirement as the Finals format or other league matters. He’ will step down Feb. 1, 2014, after precisely 30 years, the longest run of any commissioner in the four major U.S. pro sports. Pressed only a little, Stern shared some of what went on.

“Oh, there was a very warm reception last night at dinner at which some speechifying was accomplished,” he said, “and a series of totally embarrassing photos of me over the last 36 years, and a very heartwarming video that was voiced in part by … Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. It was pretty neat.

“It was a little bit over the top. There used to be a joke that said ‘My father would have enjoyed it, my mom would have believed it.’ It fell into that category. But it was very nice.

“I got the opportunity to thank my colleagues at the NBA for their incredible work and saying how pleased I was that the league was in such good hands under those colleagues and Adam’s stewardship.”

Silver will take over as commissioner on Feb. 1, a move that has been ratified and contractually set for the past year. No formal baton hand-off has been scheduled, but All-Star Weekend Feb. 14-16 in New Orleans will be two weeks too late.

At the close midday Wednesday, Stern said, a resolution was read into the meeting’s minutes. “[It] was also very warm and thanking me for my job done in the success of the league,” Stern said. “That provided the basis for me to quickly bang the gavel down on the meeting, and my last words were ‘Lunch is served.’ “

The kudos and plaudits will come rolling in over the final three months or so of Stern’s tenure. He has another victory lap or three in him, beginning with Miami’s championship ring presentation on opening night Tuesday, followed by a trip to Sacramento and the franchise that was saved for that city on his watch.

“The game is in good shape. We came off a great season,” Stern said. “Our teams are going to have record season-ticket sales, renewals are strong, sponsorships are up, gate is going to be up. Everything coming off a very strong base is going to be up this season.  Seems like a really good time to do something else.”

Stern has been Silver’s biggest booster to the owners and in the media, assuring them of a smooth transition. Silver orchestrated a little payback Wednesday, commissioning a David J. Stern bobblehead to give to the owners and team reps. Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert later did an interview in which he joked that the Stern doll only shakes its head side-to-side, rather than nodding yes.

Stern told that story on himself, as relaxed and tranquil as he’s ever been in his job.

“Believe it or not, even including my interaction with the media and the burns I [have] from being a lightning rod, it’s been a great run,” the commissioner said, “and I’m grateful to the owners for giving me the opportunity.”

From 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1

Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, recalled Wednesday a Finals turnaround in which the Celtics and the Lakers played on a Friday, flew from Los Angeles to Boston on Saturday, then played a matinee game at Boston Garden. With that in mind, the NBA will schedule an extra day off between Games 6 and 7 in June, if the 2014 Finals go that long.

No determination has been made yet on turnaround time for subsequent championship series, Stern and Silver said, or for the travel gaps between other games in the series. A Finals that goes seven games will require four airline flights between Game 2 and the finale, rather than the current two, but teams these days fly exclusively on charter flights.

Also, the competition committee felt that facing three consecutive road games (Games 3-5) was unfair to the team that earned home-court advantage, as was spending a full week on the road at that point in the postseason. Silver was said to have urged the owners to approve the change, citing basketball reasons over the business reasons that triggered the 2-3-2 approach. They approved it without dissent.

Interestingly, the teams with Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 at home (if needed) won 21 of the 29 Finals (.724) played under 2-3-2, compared to a 26-12 mark (.684) for the 38 NBA/BAA championships through 1984.

“I think there is a sense that it skews the competition, but it’s not backed up by the data,” Silver said. “The likelihood of a team winning in a 2‑3‑2 format of the favored team is the same as in the 2‑2‑1‑1‑1 format.  But there certainly was a perception … that it was unfair to the team that had the better record that it was then playing the pivotal Game 5 on the road.”
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Owners’ Meeting Vote Might See Stern Take 2-3-2 Finals Format Into Retirement

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When NBA commissioner David Stern packs up his office at the end of his 30-year term Feb. 1, the cardboard box he totes out of Manhattan’s Olympic Tower might have something besides the expected papers, photos and mementos. It might include the 2-3-2 Finals format he helped usher in so long ago.

In the last scheduled Board of Governors meeting of Stern’s tenure, the competition committee’s unanimous recommendation to switch back to a 2-2-1-1-1 home/road schedule of games will be voted on Wednesday in New York. If approved, the switch likely would be made beginning with the 2014 Finals in June, NBA.com has learned.

A desire to align the NBA’s championship series with the format of its other postseason rounds (all 2-2-1-1-1), and questions about the 2-3-2′s effect on home-court advantage have been driving discussion of the change. Stern – who took over as commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984 – presided over the Finals-only switch that began in 1985. But air travel snags and fatigues prevalent when teams flew commercially have been alleviated by luxury charter flights.

Both Stern and his presumptive replacement, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, in recent months have expressed interest in the old format. The dynamic of the team with alleged home-court advantage losing one of the Finals’ first two games and then potentially not getting another home game has been cited as one issue. Others see the inordinate amount of pressure on the team hosting Games 3, 4 and 5 – better not lose! – as an alternative bit of unfairness.

For the record, the teams with Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 at home (if needed) have won 21 of the 29 Finals (.724), compared to a 26-12 mark (.684) for the 38 NBA/BAA championships through 1984.

Among other business at the BOG meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives from Sacramento, Minnesota and Milwaukee were scheduled to brief their fellow owners and officials on arena developments in their markets.

The Kings are in the midst building a new facility, part of their push to stay in town rather than be relocated to Seattle. The Timberwolves have an agreement with Minneapolis for a $100 million renovation of Target Center. And the Bucks are seeking a deal with city and county authorities on the financing of a replacement for the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The Milwaukee Journal reported Tuesday that team owner Herb Kohl, the retired U.S. senator who has delegated Bucks VP Ron Walter to handle recent BOG business, will attend and discuss the report.