Adam Silver

REPORT: NBA Governors to vote on return Thursday, formal dates set

REPORT: NBA Governors to vote on return Thursday, formal dates set

As the NBA inches closer to a return to play, there are so many questions still unanswered.

  • When will the season start?
  • Will there be a play-in style tournament to determine the playoffs?
  • Will the NBA go straight to the playoffs?
  • Will they return to play at a single site or two single sites?
  • What will the protocols be?
  • When will the season end?
  • When will next season begin?

This Thursday could be the day we get all or most of those questions answered.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA Board of Governors will meet Thursday to vote on the finalized plan for return. The NBA’s proposed timeline as a last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals would be October 12, according to the report.

It was back on Mar. 11 when Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and then later that night the news quickly broke that the NBA was suspending the 2019-20 season.

During last Friday’s conference call with the NBA Board of Governors, Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly laid out four options to what the NBA could look like once play resumes:

  • 16 teams: Directly to playoffs
  • 20: Group/stage play
  • 22: Games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for final seed(s)
  • 30: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney

From the sounds of it, it seems the league is leaning more towards the format of 22 teams returning in a play-in type tournament.

We should know a lot more on Thursday. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

A group-play scenario for NBA playoffs may prove to be a non-starter

A group-play scenario for NBA playoffs may prove to be a non-starter

The NBA is apparently mulling two options to kick off its postseason July 31 in Orlando, where the Magic Kingdom will turn into the Magic Bubble, as teams gather to find a resolution to the 2020 season.

The options being explored seem to be a World-Cup style group stage, where several teams play a round-robin in one of several pools before the best two or three in each pool advance to a playoff bracket. Or a simple play-in tournament, where borderline teams -- likely just in the Western Conference --  try to steal the eighth seed from Memphis.

I believe the play-in tournament is the most likely scenario -- it seems to be the option that is fair to the most teams and also the format most likely to get the most votes from league governors.

I believe the idea of pool play, or any other scheme that includes teams that are firmly entrenched among the top eight teams in each conference, is not going to get enough votes to pass.

And it appears in this NBA, while Commissioner Adam Silver has power, he doesn’t have David Stern-like power, where he can simply ramrod whatever proposal he wishes down the throats of the owners.

I just don’t think upper-echelon teams will vote to be thrown into a pool with teams such as New Orleans and Portland that could knock them out of the postseason before it even gets to a bracket.

And it’s not fair.

I don’t believe teams such as Denver, Boston, Toronto, the Clippers and the Jazz, which have had solid seasons and earned the right to enjoy a first-round playoff matchup against a lower-seeded team, should have to jeopardize their season in a pool where one bad game might eliminate them.

For the NBA, any sort of play-in should involve the teams in the Western Conference -- the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Spurs and Kings -- that were breathing down the neck of eighth-seeded Memphis.

I do not believe the Grizzlies, given their schedule and the way they had been playing, were going to be able to hold onto that seed.

Just let 20 teams play four or five games in Orlando to get ready for the postseason, then throw Nos. 9-12 in the West into a sudden-death tourney -- win or go home -- for the right to meet Memphis in a best-of-three series for that eighth spot.

Fair to all concerned, with a nod to the Grizzlies for holding the eighth seed. And those win-or-go-home games will be must-see television.

It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if some form of tournament will be set up that puts not one but two of the 16 playoff berths up for grabs.

That would give the league’s new darlings, New Orleans and Zion Williamson, not only two chances to make the field but an opportunity to escape a first-round matchup with the league’s other ratings monster, LeBron and the Lakers. This from ESPN's Brian Windhorst:

"One of the things I've been hearing as I've talked to people in the league is, the league is gonna set up this playoff plan to make sure Zion Williamson is involved. ... Paranoia is at the top of the list with anything in the NBA. ... They're always paranoid about everything—'the league is screwing me, and they're helping that guy.' In this case, there's a number of different reasons why the league would want to have 20 or 24 teams, a number of different reasons to get extra games. But most of those scenarios include making sure, having Zion Williamson in the postseason."

And if you think that’s not a factor, you haven’t studied this league very long, The NBA will manipulate matchups, schedules and maybe even games to get what it wants. Don't believe me... well, all I'm going to say is that if you want to defeat New Orleans in a play-in tournament, you better have a pretty big lead going into the fourth quarter.

Certainly, the Trail Blazers should be locked into whatever format is used, simply because they have a one-percentage-point lead over New Orleans. If the Pelicans are in -- and they will be -- Portland has to be there, too.

Whatever happens, the hype machine is going to be running at full speed because the NBA has suffered through a season of ratings declines and this is a chance to salvage something better.

And don’t overlook the fact that the Trail Blazers, with Jusuf Nurkic and Zack Collins presumably healthy, have a great chance to be a much better team than their seeding would be and thus a Cinderella team in the postseason.

We should know the format of this thing next week.

The NBA might need to take a page out of UFC’s playbook

The NBA might need to take a page out of UFC’s playbook

Stricter guidelines, procedures, and safety precautions: 

These will all most likely determine what could become the “new normal” for the general public and the NBA world.

As the NBA works to stay safe and yet still lay the groundwork of potentially resuming play, it seems unavoidable that the league and its players will need to be okay with a player testing positive for the virus.

In Tuesday’s Board of Governors call with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver there was the feeling of momentum heading toward a return to play the remainder of the 2019-20 season. There was also a conversation about how the NBA community will “need to get comfortable with some positive tests for the virus” and then not immediately shut down the season if there are positive cases, that’s according to ESPN’s  Adrian Wojnarowski

It also sounds like the league is continuing to discuss at length the possibility of a single-site return to play.

But really, the NBA is going to need to take a page out of the UFC’s playbook.

This past weekend, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was scheduled to fight Uriah Hall at UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida.

But, prior to the event, he tested positive for the coronavirus, as did two of his coaches.

UFC immediately pulled Souza from the card. 

Even with Souza off the card, the UFC still carried on with the event. 

UFC 249 went on as scheduled, with no fans in the stands, and by all accounts was a huge success. 

No other UFC athletes tested positive prior to UFC 249.

The UFC proved that events without fans can work just fine and it's more about the television broadcast these days.

No fans in attendance seems like the most certain of the NBA's ‘new normal’ at least for the foreseeable future.

A decision on the 2019-20 NBA season could be coming in the next "two to four weeks," according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.  

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fry and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon along with special guest former Portland Trail Blazer Steve Blake.

Report: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver updates players, decision on season won't be made anytime soon

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USA Today Images

Report: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver updates players, decision on season won't be made anytime soon

Now that the Trail Blazers’ practice facility and other team’s facilities are open or set to open in the next couple of weeks for players to use for individual workouts, the league had a call with the players Friday.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania was the first to report the latest updates regarding the potential return of the 2019-20 season. 

Will play resume and what could that look like in the following months?

One thing seems almost certain: The league isn’t expecting to have fans in attendance.

As for the idea of playing at a single-site if plays resumes, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the players it would be safer to play the games all in one city and not have teams traveling around the country.

But, what happens if a player does test positive for the virus if the season does resume?

According to Charania, Silver is hoping for daily tests and in that case, if someone tests postive the league would have the player or players isolated.

The NBA isn’t reportedly going to make a decision on the season until, most likely, well into June.

On Friday’s call, some players expressed their concern of how they were feeling pressured to return to the teams’ practice facilities.

Silver said he would address those worries with the teams individually, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul was one of those players to voice his concern.

Commissioner Silver reassured players that if the season restarts, he hopes to still have a seven-game playoff series and he believes that all 30 teams’ owners do not want the 2019-20 season to be cancelled.  

Wojnarowski also pointed out that Silver mentioned there would be a minimum of three weeks for a training camp for teams before games would start.

From the sound of it, players were able to have their concerns heard as Silver reassured safety during Friday's call. 

'The Last Dance' very likely won't give you The Last Word on Michael Jordan's career

'The Last Dance' very likely won't give you The Last Word on Michael Jordan's career

Tonight marks the premiere of “The Last Dance,” the much-anticipated documentary about Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls.

I’m certain it’s going to be a very entertaining 10-episode peek behind the scenes of a great NBA team. A film crew was embedded with the Bulls throughout that season and these sorts of inside looks at teams are always illuminating. You can go all the way back to hockey’s “The Boys on the Bus” about the Edmonton Oilers and baseball’s great “It’s a Long Way to October,” Ted Turner’s inside story of a season with his Atlanta Braves. Great entertainment.

This one, given all the quirky personalities involved with that Bulls' dynasty, from GM Jerry Krause, to Coach Phil Jackson, to Dennis Rodman, to Jordan himself, promises to be both funny and shocking.

But I wouldn’t expect any great revelations out of this about the bewildering mysteries of Jordan’s career. This film, the brainchild of NBA Entertainment’s Andy Thompson (Mychal’s brother and Klay’s uncle, by the way), was made possible only because Adam Silver, head of NBAE at the time, made an agreement that none of the footage could be used without Jordan’s permission. Apparently Jordan had complete control.

And since there's a generation out there that has never heard some of this stuff, it doesn't hurt to review it now, in case the documentary doesn't hit on it.

Jordan never seemed to mind that his bullying form of leadership, which included mental and even physical abuse of teammates, was known. He always seemed to take some sort of macho pride in it. And while I have not seen the film, I’m sure you’ll hear the whole story of how he flattened teammate Steve Kerr with a punch during practice. You might even get to see him belittling or demeaning his teammates -- he is famous for it. Just toughening them up, he will say.

What you won’t hear, though, is any genuine explanation for why he left basketball for two years under the guise of trying baseball as a career -- a move that never seemed to make much sense and was shrouded in all sorts of rumors.

You will hear about his gambling exploits, too, I’m guessing, but not about his reputation for not paying when he lost bets -- be it on the golf course or in a casino.

The real story of MJ's career may never be told. The mysterious foray into baseball will probably forever remain an unanswered question.

What you will see in "The Last Dance" is the Bulls -- and particularly Jordan -- treated like something more than great basketball players.

This era was the birth of the NBA’s special version of fandom that exists even today, more common in this sport than any other. Beyond hero worship, it’s a cult of personality:

The term cult of personality gets thrown around quite a bit. But what does it mean? Cult of personality is a term, usually pejorative in nature, which refers to a situation where a public figure is presented to the populace via propaganda as an amazing person who should be admired, loved, and respected.

Report: NBA & NBAPA agree to withhold 25 percent from players' paychecks

Report: NBA & NBAPA agree to withhold 25 percent from players' paychecks

As the NBA continues to navigate through these uncertain times, the league and the players have reportedly agreed on a deal when it comes to their pay.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and the NBPA have agreed on withholding 25 percent of each player's paycheck.

This will go into effect on May 15.

There have been ongoing talks about reduced pay for weeks now.  

It was at the end of March when the first reports surfaced

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that the league will not make any decision on whether the 2019-20 season will resume or be cancelled until at least May 1st.  

The collective bargaining agreement states that players lose approximately 1 percent of salary per canceled game, based on a force majeure provision, which covers pandemics. Once there is a cancellation of games, the provision is automatically put in place. 

Adam Silver will not make decision about NBA season until at least May

Adam Silver will not make decision about NBA season until at least May

Monday, the NBA launched “#NBATogether with Ernie Johnson,” a new social talk show hosted by TNT’s Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson. 

The show welcomed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as the first guest. 

Even though Silver does not know if this season will resume or not, he did give some insight on a timeline he is looking at for making such decisions.

Silver told Johnson that he has let people around the NBA know that there will be no real answer on whether or not this season will restart again or potentially be cancelled until, at a minimum, May 1.

As of right now, Silver doesn’t know exactly how things would look if the season does resume this summer. He admitted that at a certain point, the league's current decisions will begin to impact next season.

The 57-year-old also had a smile on his face when he admitted that one of his hobbies lately has been doing FaceTime calls with his family as well as video conferencing with people around the league.

Silver didn’t just discuss how COVID-19 impacts the immediate future of the NBA, but also what this virus could potentially change down the line.

He posed the question, “How will this change American’s lives?”  

Silver added that “there may be certain modifications that we’re going to need to make” within the NBA.

With that, Silver mentioned the league has looked at the possible changes of not allowing as much access to the players and maybe changing how food is served at NBA arenas.

There may be some social distancing protocols that could be put in place when the NBA does come back.

Silver has a lot to consider over the next few weeks and probably over the next few months. But, from the sounds of it, he is leaving no stone unturned.

Damian Lillard worries the season may not restart

Damian Lillard worries the season may not restart

Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is making sure to keep up-to-date with all the reports and rumors on what could potentially happen if and when the league returns. 

He's not going out of his way; however, to stay informed on every little possibility. He has, though, spoken with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about possible scenarios.  

“I’m not like seeking out information, like calling people and all that stuff, but, I mean, I spoke to Adam. I spoke to at least four or five people from the league that have reached out to me like – ‘what do you think about this?’ Kind of, just having conversations,” Lilllard said.

It was back on Mar. 18 when Adam Silver laid out three possible scenarios in which the NBA returns.

I’d say I’m looking at three different things here:

One is -- Of course, when can we restart and operate as we’ve known -- 19,000 fans in buildings, that’s one set of criteria.

Then option two is – Should we consider starting without fans and what would that mean? Because presumably if you had a group of players and staff around them and you could test them and you could follow some protocol, doctors, health officials may say it’s safe to play…
And then, the third option that we are looking at now, and I would say all suggestions are welcome, is that… Are there conditions in which a group of players could compete and maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just for the good of the people?” – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols earlier this month

The Trail Blazers veteran made it clear that he has shared his stance on not wanting the resuming of this season to push back and effect next season’s start date.  

He also feels a lot of players on the same page as him and wouldn’t want next season to start later than usual.

“I just don’t see it. I mean, the season starts when it starts now, then February all-star weekend, getting toward the end of the season in April and then getting into the playoffs. You get that early June Finals and then you get to go off into your summer.”

Lillard smiled as he said, “I don’t hold back saying what I think or how I feel. I’m just like, ‘man, what’s going on? Just tell me… You can just tell me the truth.’ But obviously, they’ve got to follow what they’ve got to follow.”

Even though Lillard is optimistic that the 2019-20 season will resume, he knows it’s out of the league’s hands at a certain point.

“Yeah, I am,” Lillard said when asked if he was worried about the season not resuming. “I think, I’m definitely a little bit worried that, that’s a possibility, but I’m encouraged because I know that the league is doing everything in their power to make sure that it does.”

Wednesday, April 1st will be the three-week mark since the NBA has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many out there that believe NBA games will be played once again in June as Silver has even said that mid-June is likely the earliest that play would restart.

Lillard reminds us all though, the league won’t put the players and staff’s health in danger.

I know that if we don’t come back that it’ll be for the right reasons. It will be for the sake of all of our health and that’s what’s first, but I think that at some point we will be back and if not, I think there will be a great reason for that. -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

For now the NBA and Adam Silver will continue to navigate through these uncertain times just like the rest of us.

And we’ll look forward to the NBA holding a players only NBA 2k Tournament this weekend.  

Virtual basketball is better than no basketball, right? 

REPORT: NBA is considering withholding pay from players if regular season games cancelled

REPORT: NBA is considering withholding pay from players if regular season games cancelled

The NBA and other professional sports leagues have been considering various scenarios as to what could play out over the next few months as we all work together to see how quickly we can flatten the curve of COVID-19.

The NBA has also been looking at different financial considerations during this uncertain time.

Last week, reports surfaced that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and roughly 100 of the NBA's top-earning league executives took a 20 percent pay cut in base salary last week and will continue to take a reduction in pay through the coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, details emerge on how the league and the National Basketball Players Association are discussing scenarios that could include withholding up to 25 percent of players' remaining salaries in a league escrow.  

That would only happen if the regular-season games were eventually canceled, according to Wojnarowski.

The collective bargaining agreement states that players lose approximately 1 percent of salary per canceled game, based on a force majeure provision, which covers pandemics. Once there is a cancellation of games, the provision is automatically put in place.

The force majeure would also be put into use for next season as well, protecting against a huge drop in the salary cap and luxury tax.

The league is reportedly not going to making any announcements anytime soon on whether or not games will be canceled.

The NBA continues to be a catalyst during COVID-19 outbreak

The NBA continues to be a catalyst during COVID-19 outbreak

What a whirlwind this week has been.

Last Wednesday, the NBA took action and suspended the 2019-20 season.

Rightfully so.

Since then, the other professional sports leagues, as well as the entire country, have followed suit in trying to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver works from home, just like many Americans hoping to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, he an interview to ESPN.

Silver mentioned how it was crazy to think about how things have changed within just a week, and how many people are not only trying to stay safe and healthy, but many are also trying to keep their spirits up.

“I recognize that when we went off the air last Wednesday night, it was a larger decision than just the NBA,” Silver told Nichols. “I think it got a lot of people’s attention. I think for those people and maybe young people in particular, who are a large part of our audience, who frankly weren’t taking all that seriously -- the recommendations in terms of what the appropriate protocols are -- they’re like, ‘wow the NBA is off, something is going on here.’ But since then, I’d say we’ve been working through these issues in the same way you all are and other Americans are.”

Both NBA fans and non-NBA fans have shared their thoughts on how it doesn't seem fair that the NBA is testing teams for the virus, while America is still very limited with COVID-19 tests. 

The Nets and Thunder have used private labs for their coronavirus testing, but this issue has been a focal point on social media.  

“We’ve been following the recommendations of public health officials,” Silver said. 

He also pointed back to the league's very first incident when Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive before the Jazz and Thunder game in Oklahoma City last Wednesday. 

The Utah Jazz did not ask to be tested. The Oklahoma City Health Officials there on the spot not only required that they be tested, but they weren’t allowed to leave their locker room, which was at least four hours after the game -- where they had to stay, masks on, in the locker room, they couldn’t leave until the health authorities had tested them – that was our first case. -- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on following the health officials' recommendations on why so many NBA teams have been tested

Now a total of eight teams have been tested while Silver added that a handful of individual players have been tested who were showing COVID-19 symptoms.

Silver reiterated…

“I understand there are many sides to these issues, but I also think that by virtue of an NBA player being tested and the kind of attention it brings, my sense was especially among young people in the United States, people were not taking these protocols all that seriously until the NBA did what he did.”

Now Silver is wading through all the different scenarios along with league owners when deciding on what to do next:

Will the NBA season start up again? Or will it be canceled? Silver said he wouldn't begin to try to predict the future, but it sure seems like the NBA could lead the future during this outbreak.  

One thing is certain: Silver and the NBA are strictly following public health officials’ guidelines and recommendations when it comes to the decision of the 2019-20 season.

And if you ask former NBA player Kendrick Perkins, Silver is doing a dang good job navigating through this unthinkable and unfamiliar territory. 

To all the NBA players, future NBA players and NBA fans should never panic knowing that we have Adam Silver as our LEADER!!! He’s the best in the business. – Kendrick Perkins posted on Twitter

The thought of the NBA returning could help some feel as though some normalcy is returning to their life, and the NBA is only going to return once both health and league officials feel it's safe to do so.

With that, along with the leadership of Silver, it’s not as if it's permissible to think the NBA once again could be out ahead of the game when it comes to returning to life as we knew it before COVID-19.