Anyway, that's just an idea, and probably not on the top of Silver's to-do list. The tanking issue is possibly higher, but I don't necessarily believe the wheel system is an answer. Nor do I believe the draft needs to be altered. Of those teams you mentioned, two have won titles in the last six years, six made the playoffs last year and one has Kevin Durant. All of that without a No. 1 overall pick. Meaning, tanking isn't necessary.
No. 1 picks aren't locks, even in years when it seems they are ( Greg Oden and Durant in 2007). What doesn't fail is a well-structured, progressive, smart front office -- not much Silver can do about that for failing teams.
In terms of league revenue, which can help every team, I'd be especially intrigued to see if Silver greenlights advertisements on jerseys. That's the type of move that could spread across the four major North American pro sports, giving his impact even further reach.
J.A.: I think you're on to something with that last observation. Silver's biggest challenge will be finding revenue streams to generate return on investment for this wave of owners who bought in at $300 million and up. As one team executive told me, "His entire existence comes down to what he can serve up on the TV contract."
" How tight will Silver be with guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant? We've heard LeBron say he's got some ideas for the new commish. How closely will Silver listen to them in the ultimate player's league?
" -- Israel Gutierrez
There are still two more seasons before the current deals expire, so even though this is a priority, it might not happen immediately. Even when it does, it won't make much of an impact on the fans, other than affecting which channel they turn to when they're watching the games.
I do think there are business matters to be settled that impact the product, primarily a broken system that rewards teams on the extreme end of the spectrum but doesn't encourage teams to improve to merely "good." Silver has been an advocate of a hard salary cap, or as close as the NBA can get to one. If the current collective bargaining agreement makes it too difficult to build and maintain winning teams, will he call for loosening of the rules? It really comes down to whether his bosses, the owners, care more about their profits or the product.
Israel: I'd be curious to see what Silver's relationship with players will be like. We credit Michael Jordan with helping Stern expand the game, so just how tight will Silver be with guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant? We've heard LeBron say he's got some ideas for the new commish. How closely will Silver listen to them in the ultimate player's league? Will guys suggest shorter preseasons, a wider court or just a wider lane, a friendlier schedule (less back-to-backs, for one), and will Silver listen?
Forging strong bonds with the players can only help Silver avoid severe labor tension. I know this much: Silver is an incredibly bright, progressive thinker who has likely already considered all these ideas and more. Chances are he'll find a way to surprise us all, putting his signature on much more than just the basketballs.
J.A.: The belief around the league is that Silver will be more inclusive and receptive to ideas than Stern. We know he won't have the same domineering personality. Regardless of his ruling style, it still will take a while for him to find his "commissioner's voice" for his presence to be felt. We should step back from all the suggestions for a moment to allow that to happen. Well, not completely back. Silver's first order of business needs to be giving the injured Kobe Bryant's All-Star spot to Goran Dragic. Some business just can't wait.