Adam Silver

Ja Morant Notes: League, Silver, Nike, Suspension

The latest gun-related incident involving Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant could adversely affect the reputations of the rest of the NBA’s players, opined Tim MacMahon of ESPN during a recent episode of The Basketball Illuminati Podcast.

“I’m curious what stance [the players association] might take,” MacMahon said. “I’ve talked to agents of other superstar players and they’re pissed off too. Because this is not just a bad look for Ja Morant. This is not just a bad look for the Memphis Grizzlies. This reflects poorly on the entire league… Other teams are livid about this and other agents are livid about this because they feel it reflects poorly on everybody.

“I’m talking to an agent of another superstar and he’s like ‘Man, this really taints the image of the whole league,'” MacMahon continued. “‘I’ve got my clients who are doing everything right, who are never sniffing any kind of trouble. Positive members of their community.’ So on and so forth, but then the perception is going to be ‘Look at this fool who thinks playing with guns on Instagram Live is cool.”’

There’s more out of Memphis:

  • Morant’s recent regression has frustrated and disappointed several figures around the league, but the opinion of NBA commissioner Adam Silver is more important than anyone else, writes Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Morant met with Silver to discuss the gravity of his previous suspension-inducing behavior with a gun in March. Giannotto believes that, given Silver’s comments about the latest actions of Morant, the commissioner will be considerably less lenient than he was in doling a punishment last time.
  • Until this season, Morant had been one of the NBA’s leading luminaries. Accordingly, he had his own line of Nike shoes in the pipeline. Now, the Nike app has stopped listing his Hunger Ja 1 sneakers ahead of their scheduled May 25 release, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • After Morant’s prior eight-game suspension this season, Jemele Hill of The Atlantic believes a considerably lengthier one in 2023/24 could potentially help the Grizzlies guard appreciate what he stands to give up should he continue this kind of behavior.

Latest On Ja Morant

Ja Morant is facing a “lengthy suspension” after his latest gun incident, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Sunday on “NBA Countdown” (video link). A video in which the Grizzlies guard appeared to brandish a firearm showed up on Instagram Sunday morning. The footage could have lasting effects for both Morant and his team.

Wojnarowski notes that commissioner Adam Silver showed “restraint” during a similar incident in early March when Morant posted a video of himself holding a gun at Denver-area strip club. Woj adds that Silver met with Morant before announcing an eight-game suspension and “took him at his word that he would make better decisions.” Silver is expected to handle the situation differently this time, particularly with owners concerned about how Morant’s actions affect the image of the NBA.

“I sense already today that Adam Silver’s going to feel increasing pressure from other teams in the league who see this, as much as it impacts the Grizzlies, that it impacts them and their ability to market their players and their teams,” Wojnarowski said.

The league will investigate the video to make sure it wasn’t “doctored” before taking any action, Wojnarowski adds.

There’s more on Morant and the reaction to the latest video:

  • Morant’s “transcendent talent and the seemingly endless marketing possibilities” affected the judgment of everyone involved in handling the first case, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. He adds that the Grizzlies approached the situation with “a classic small-market culture” of a team that was concerned about upsetting its star player. Amick states that Morant has wasted the opportunity to learn from his mistakes by not changing his inner circle, getting away from the gun culture and accepting the responsibility that’s part of being an admired public figure.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated points out that the eight-game suspension likely cost Morant an All-NBA designation, which would have guaranteed an extra $40MM in salary through a super-max contract. Despite the financial implications, the meeting with Silver, a visit to a counseling center in Florida and a contrite interview with Jalen Rose, Morant doesn’t seem to have been moved to change his behavior, Mannix adds.
  • Morant’s expected suspension will change the Grizzlies’ offseason in several ways, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Memphis likely won’t try to trade Tyus Jones, who has an expiring contract and has become one of the league’s best backup point guards, Cole states, because he’ll be needed while Morant is inactive. That limits the team’s options for an upgrade at small forward. Cole also contends that Desmond Bane needs to become the Grizzlies’ leader now that Morant has shown he’s not able to handle the role.

And-Ones: Silver, Jordan, MVP Race, Cousins

In addition to addressing the state of the CBA negotiations between the NBA and NBPA during his press conference on Wednesday, commissioner Adam Silver spoke about several other topics, including  rumors that he could replace Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO (“I have no intention of going anywhere,” Silver said) and his meeting earlier this month with Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays, Silver also discussed the reports stating that Michael Jordan is in talks to sell a stake in the Hornets, explaining that Jordan expects to still be very much involved in the NBA even if he’s no longer the majority owner in Charlotte.

“One thing Michael has told me is that whether or not that transaction gets done, he will remain governor in the league, technically maybe the alternate governor instead of the governor, so he’ll still stay very involved,” Silver said. “He’d still continue to have an interest in the league.

“I recognize that over time, people’s interests move on to other areas. He’s not living in the market right now, etc. So, completely understandable. But the good news is, I think regardless of his ownership status, he will remain part and parcel of everything that this league continues to do. I have no doubt about that.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The 2023 MVP race is tighter than ever in the season’s home stretch, according to the third and final straw poll conducted by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 100 media members who submitted five-man ballots to Bontemps picked Sixers center Joel Embiid over Nuggets center Nikola Jokic by a grand total of two points (790 to 788). Jokic actually received more first-place votes (42) than Embiid (40), while Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was also very much in the mix, with the remaining 18 first-place votes and 612 total points.
  • Asked during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter audio link) if he has received feedback from NBA teams about why he’s not in the league, free agent center DeMarcus Cousins said he hasn’t gotten a real explanation. “I’ve asked many questions. I’ve reached out to former teams,” Cousins said. “I kind of get sugar-coated answers. I can never really get the raw, honest truth. I’ve struggled with that as well. I would love to get a real answer.”
  • In an Insider-only article for, Kevin Pelton considers the effect a minimum games-played requirement would have on All-NBA voting, noting that players who have earned All-NBA honors while playing fewer than 58 games have often been among the league’s biggest superstars.

Adam Silver Discusses CBA Negotiations

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association continue to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, with a deadline set for Friday at midnight Eastern Time, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

The March 31 deadline has already been extended twice after originally being set for December 15. That deadline is for either the league or the NBPA to opt out of the current CBA on June 30.

Commissioner Adam Silver says he’s hopeful about reaching a new CBA in the next few days, but the NBA plans to exercise its option to opt out if there is no deal in place when the deadline arrives.

I certainly can foresee one getting done and I hope we do get one done,” Silver said, per Reynolds. “It’s just because, honestly, I’m only one side of the negotiation, it’s difficult for me to place odds on whether or not that’s going to happen.”

In a statement, NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said the union has no intention of opting out if the deadline passes with no deal.

The March 31st deadline is an important benchmark, and we are doing everything in our power to reach an agreement with the league,” Tremaglio said. “If we don’t have a deal and the league decides to opt out, it will be disappointing considering all the work both sides have put into the negotiations, and the fair nature of our requests. As far as our fans are concerned, it will be business as usual. Games will continue uninterrupted.”

Silver said he thought negotiations would come down to the wire, as both sides “tend to hold their best positions until the very end.” He described the discussions as “positive,” though he cautioned there was still work to be done, according to Reynolds.

I think for both sides in various categories we acknowledge we’ve come closer together,” Silver said. “There still is a gap between where we feel we need to be in order to get a deal done. I’d say throughout the discussions have had a very positive tenor and continued the strong sense of partnership that we have with our players and the players association.”

It’s worth noting that if the league follows through and does opt out, the two sides would still have until June 30 to negotiate a new CBA and prevent a possible lockout. The current CBA was originally set to expire after the 2023/24 season, but an opt-out would change that timeline.

According to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Silver said part of the reason the NBA is trying to get a new CBA in place sooner rather than later is because the media landscape has changed drastically since 2017, when the current CBA was put in place. As Vorkunov writes, Diamond Sports Group filed for bankruptcy earlier this month and it owns Bally Sports Regional Networks, which works with 16 different teams to distribute games.

However, Diamond informed the NBA it would be able to continue its payments for the rest of the season and keep games on air.

And-Ones: Buyouts, In-Season Tournament, Pre-Agency

It has been a record-setting year for buyouts, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Since the trade deadline, nine players have given up money in buyout agreements to be granted their release. Will Barton became the ninth, on Tuesday, joining Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Reggie Jackson, Patrick Beverley, Danny Green, Terrence Ross, Justin Holiday, and Leandro Bolmaro.

As Marks notes, that’s a new record for post-deadline buyouts in a single NBA season.

So far, seven of those nine players have either signed with new teams or have their new home lined up. We’re still waiting to see what the next move will be for Bolmaro, who is rumored to be headed back to Europe, and Barton.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking to several All-Stars in Salt Lake City over the weekend, Joe Vardon, Law Murray, and Bob Kravitz of The Athletic polled players on the NBA’s playoff format, the league’s top trash talkers, and their favorite road cities, among other topics. Interestingly, the All-Star respondents polled by The Athletic seem pretty open to the idea of a midseason tournament, with eight players saying either “yes” or “maybe” to the concept, while just three said “no.”
  • While it doesn’t sound like something the NBA is seriously considering in the short term, commissioner Adam Silver – speaking at his annual All-Star weekend press conference – didn’t rule out the possibility of the league eventually conducting an in-season tournament that includes non-NBA teams. Donatas Urbonas of has the story and the quotes from Silver.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype identifies several players who won’t necessarily be free agents this summer but who are worth monitoring in the coming months as possible candidates to change teams in “pre-agency.”
  • In a column for Yahoo Sports, Vincent Goodwill weighs the pros and cons of the NBA’s player movement era for players, teams, and fans.

Commissioner, Union Leaders Optimistic About New CBA

Now that the early opt-out deadline has been extended to March 31, commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio are focused on working out a new collective bargaining agreement by that date, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I would just say it’s an absolute priority for us as well to get a deal done as soon as possible,” Silver said Saturday at his annual All-Star Game news conference. He later added, “It’s my hope that the deal will be done by then.”

Both sides indicated that progress has been made on a new CBA, although some issues still have to be worked through, such as how to handle load management and the potential addition of a midseason tournament. NBPA president CJ McCollum is a supporter of the tournament, citing experiences that his brother had with a similar arrangement in Europe.

“Obviously, we’re still working through logistics and what that kind of looks like, the financial implications behind the midseason tournament,” McCollum said. “I think, as a player who has played in play-in games probably more than I would have liked to at this point in my career, I think there was probably some pessimism and optimism mixed in from our fan base about what that was going to look like.”

Another topic being negotiated is a league proposal to permit players to enter the draft straight out of high school. The union appears open to the idea, but it wants some mechanism to make sure too many veteran players won’t be pushed out of the league as a result. Tremaglio would like to see a structure set up to help high schoolers make the jump to the NBA and give them their best shot at success.

“We recognize that we really do need to make sure that we have the structure in place, if we’re going to have people join the league at the age of 18,” she said. “We also appreciate that there is a lot of benefit to really having veterans who can bring those 18-year-olds along. And so you know, certainly anything that we would even consider, to be quite honest, would have to include a component that would allow veterans to be a part of it as well.”

Silver touched on a few other significant issues, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

  • The commissioner cited “medical data” to support the way teams are currently handling load management and disagreed with claims that stars are sitting out too often.
  • He said the league is on pace to set records for ticket sales and season-ticket renewals, adding that this year’s All-Star Game is reaching new highs with $280MM in economic impact and 33,000 combined hotel nights.
  • Silver said a contingency plan is in place to make sure games are televised if any regional sports networks go bankrupt before the end of the season.
  • He added that no new expansion discussions have taken place. Silver has said before that the league wants to focus on finalizing a new CBA before considering expansion.

NBA, NBPA Likely To Extend CBA Opt-Out Deadline

There’s a good chance that the February 8 deadline for either the league or the National Basketball Players Association to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will be pushed back once again, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during a press conference in Paris, France on Thursday that negotiations are ongoing. NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio was also in Paris for the Bulls-Pistons game but the negotiations were taking place in the U.S.

“Our colleagues are back in New York, negotiating as we speak,” Silver said. “They’ve been meeting all week, just going issue by issue and trying to work through those issues that separate us. I would say, though, that I think we start from a very strong foundation.”

The original opt-out date was December 15 but the league’s Board of Governors and the Players Association agreed to an extension.

“There’s a strong sense of partnership between the players and the league,” Silver said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements.”

The current CBA, which went into effect in 2017, runs through the 2023/24 season. However, the league and the players’ union hold a mutual option to terminate that agreement at the end of the ’22/23 league year (June 30).

It’s expected that the new labor agreement will allow players to enter the draft straight out of high school. The current rule in which players must be 19 years old or be one year removed from high school was instituted in 2006.

The league’s owners have been pushing an “upper spending limit” that would significantly tighten the rules on how much teams can spend each year on their roster, effectively serving as a hard cap to replace the current luxury tax system.

Adam Silver Addresses Expansion As NBA Returns To Mexico City

Commissioner Adam Silver received several questions about expansion before the Heat and Spurs played Saturday in Mexico City, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The league used to travel to Mexico frequently, but because of the pandemic, today marked the first NBA game in the country since 2019.

At a news conference prior to tip-off, Silver was peppered with questions about Mexico City someday being considered for an expansion team. His responses echoed comments made by NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum last month, saying the league isn’t ready to add teams, but the city will be a strong contender whenever that happens.

“In terms of Mexico City, I believe you’re doing all the things necessary to demonstrate to the league that ultimately we may be in position to house an NBA team here,” Silver said. “Certainly from a travel standpoint it’s very accessible, time zone wise, of course.”

Mexico City has hosted more than 30 NBA games in a relationship with the league that spans three decades. The G League’s Mexico City Capitanes recently began playing in Arena CDMX, which is considered to be an NBA-quality facility.

Silver cited research showing there are 30 million NBA fans in Mexico and said he hopes that number will increase as the country gets more media access to games.

“I’ll add one factor that I wouldn’t have thought of even when I was here in 2019,” Silver said. “We’re seeing a faster transformation to streaming than I would have predicted even a few years ago, and when you move to streaming platforms and you’re talking to these partners that are very much global, I think the addition of a team, for example, in Mexico might have a very different impact and relevance to them than maybe a historical U.S.-based media partner.”

Many of the players who participated in this year’s trip to Mexico City were impressed by what they saw, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. On Friday, they attended a Capitanes game where the crowd cheered intensely from start to finish while beating drums and chanting the team’s name.

“It was crazy,” said Spurs rookie Blake Wesley. “I was like, ‘How is it this many people for a G League game?’ I enjoyed it. It was fun.”

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who has been involved in many of the NBA games in Mexico, believes the city has earned consideration when the league decides to expand.

“That’s above my pay grade to decide where the teams go, but I know they love it,” he said. “It’s a viable place for such an endeavor, and I have no doubt that Adam and his crew are doing everything they can to decide whether that should happen.”

And-Ones: MVP Poll, 2023 Draft, Female Coaches, Wade

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum narrowly edged Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first edition of this season’s MVP straw poll conducted by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Tatum appeared on 98 of 100 ballots cast by media members, receiving 47 first-place votes in the process en route to 759 points, according to Bontemps. Antetokounmpo was on 93 of 100 ballots and received 36 first-place votes for a total of 687 points, the second-closest margin between first and second place since Bontemps began conducting the MVP polls in 2016/17.

Rounding out the top five were Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (392 points), Warriors guard Stephen Curry (250 points) and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (195 points). Antetokounmpo and Jokic each won back-to-back MVPs over the past four years, while Curry, who is out for multiple weeks with a shoulder injury, did the same from 2014-16. Tatum and Doncic would be first-time winners.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated lists his early big board risers and fallers for the 2023 draft. Among Woo’s risers are Arkansas guard Anthony Black and Michigan guard Jett Howard, while Duke center Dereck Lively and Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates are among the players who have seen their stocks fall.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver says the NBA’s first female head coach is long overdue, per Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports. “I would be hugely disappointed if certainly in five years we haven’t seen our first female head coach in the NBA,” Silver said on a podcast with journalist Bonnie Bernstein. The NBA commissioner has long been a proponent of adding more female coaches to the league.
  • In a lengthy interview with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, Jazz part owner and future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade discussed Utah’s strong start, his departure from TNT, and several other topics. Wade says he’s thrilled with new head coach Will Hardy and thinks “the future looks bright,” adding that he loves watching the current group and the energy surrounding the team.

Adam Silver, Kyrie Irving Have “Productive” Meeting

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Kyrie Irving met this morning in New York and they had a productive and understanding visit, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

How the meeting might impact Irving’s suspension by the Nets, and whether the league might take any action, remains to be seen. The franchise grounded its star guard for a minimum of five games after he promoted on his Twitter account a film that has been denounced as antisemitic. The Nets have reportedly asked Irving to meet six requirements before lifting the suspension.

Silver issued a statement last week about Irving’s “reckless decision” and failure to offer an “unqualified apology” denouncing the “vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.” Irving eventually deleted the tweet and apologized after being suspended.

Prior to the meeting, one report suggested that Irving may never wear a Brooklyn uniform again.