NEW ORLEANS — Adam Silver kept his focus on the game but hinted at some changes to the business during his first press conference as NBA commissioner.
From the look of the draft to the look of the uniforms, Silver touched on a number of topics during his remarks that ran about 40 minutes. He replaced David Stern on Feb. 1 and replaced Stern's old format Saturday, standing at a podium instead of sitting at a table.
Silver would like to raise the age limit but isn't sure there's need to change the lottery that precedes the draft. Expansion isn't a current priority — domestically or internationally — but lengthening the All-Star break might be considered.
“This is a fabulous league that has its best years still ahead of it,” Silver said.
Among his ways to improve it:
On the draft: Silver said everywhere he goes that “people dislike so-called one and done,” referring to the many players who go to college for just one year to meet the league's age minimum of being one year out of high school and 19 years old. He favors pushing the age minimum to 20.
“It is my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people, for a longer amount of time before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league,” he said. “And I know from a competitive standpoint that's something as I travel the league I increasingly hear from our coaches, especially, who feel that many of even the top players in the league could use more time to develop even as leaders as part of college programs.”
On tanking: My understanding of tanking would be losing games on purpose, and there's absolutely no evidence that any team in the NBA has ever lost a single game,”Silver said.
Nevertheless, he said the Competition Committee would examine the lottery system that gives teams with the worst records the best chance to win the No. 1 pick. “But I'm not overly concerned right now,” he said.
On the length of the season: He likes the current 82 games, but will look at the idea of longer break at midseason. The league currently shuts down Friday-Monday for All-Star weekend.
“That's something I've heard directly from players on,” Silver said. “They're saying that if they could get a few more days off around All-Star, especially the All-Stars, I think, who as we know are so busy over the course of these few days, it would be helpful to them to get some additional rest.”
On sleeved jerseys: “From a fan standpoint, the greatest indicator is how are they selling, and I'll say we're having trouble keeping them in stores,” Silver said, referring to the somewhat-maligned sleeved jerseys that were worn on Christmas Day and will be again in Sunday's All-Star game.
But he said some players have complained, though not about them affecting their shooting, and said it was not the league's or outfitter Adidas' intention to change the core uniform. He also said the league is “not close at the moment” on sponsors on jerseys but he believes “ultimately it will happen in the NBA.”
On expansion teams: “It's not on the top of my list right now,” Silver said, because he said all 30 teams weren't healthy financially now even after the league's gains during the 2011 lockout.
“My job is to ensure that 30 teams are healthy and competitive, and so that's what my priority is right now as opposed to expansion.”
On the salary cap: Owners fought for a hard cap like the NFL in 2011, as opposed to the current NBA system that allows teams to exceed it through the use of certain exceptions. Sounds like that hasn't changed.
“I would like a harder system to distribute players better as opposed to the tax system we have in place now,” Silver said.