SAN FRANCISCO — Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA is considering switching the voting process for All-NBA selections each season from the current position-based system to one where voters select the 15 best players regardless of position. Silver said it is something he plans to address with the National Basketball Players Association.
“In terms of determinations for All-NBA, I think a fair amount of consideration is going into whether [the media] should just be picking top players than be picking by position,” Silver said at a news conference ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “I think we are a league that has moved increasingly toward position-less basketball, and the current system may result in some inequities based on the happenstance of what your position is.
“So that is something we’re looking at. It’s something that we will discuss with the Players Association because it has an impact on incentives and players contracts, and it has, you know, deep meaning for their legacy as well. So we will look at those things.”
The topic of whether the ballot should continue to be determined by positions has picked up steam over the past two years, as two centers — Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers — finished 1-2 in the league’s voting for its Most Valuable Player award.
But because of the current system, only one of them has the ability to be a first team All-NBA player, while the other — in this case, Embiid both last season and this one — would have to be a second-team selection.
Silver also said there will be more discussions about whether contract bonuses will be tied to media awards voting, but also added that both sides have agreed that it is the best of a series of imperfect options.
“In terms of the ultimate selection process and, to your point that in some cases can have a direct financial impact on a player’s contract, right now we agreed with the Players Association to use those designations to trigger certain bonuses in players’ contracts, frankly because we couldn’t come up with a better way that would feel objective to everyone involved,” Silver said.
Throughout his roughly 30-minute session with reporters, Silver touched on a number of topics:
o Both the NBA and NBPA have the ability to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in December ahead of it expiring next summer. It was a similar situation the last time the deal was up in 2017, with both sides agreeing to a new deal in December 2016 before the opt-out date arrived.
Silver said it was his hope a similar blueprint would be followed this time around, but said it was a bit too early to say that would be the case, given in part his still getting to know the newly appointed executive director of the NBPA, Tamika Tremaglio.
“I think we all know that for any negotiation, seemingly collective bargaining in particular, deadlines are really helpful to get people to push their best offers across the table,” Silver said.
Silver also added that all of the discussions both sides have had over the past two-and-a-half years over everything that’s gone on because of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to them talking more than ever before, which helped increase his belief of a deal being agreed to amicably once again.
o Silver said the idea of a midseason tournament remains on the table, though is not yet finalized, as more discussions with the NBPA are required. In addition, when asked about players dealing with wear-and-tear on their bodies over the course of an 82-game season Silver said he’d potentially be open to discussions of shortening the season — but only if it could be proven to help mitigate injuries.
“As I have said before, what we don’t see is increased numbers of injuries as the season goes on. It’s not as if because of fatigue over the course of a season, you see more injuries,” Silver said. “We do see a connection between actual fatigue, for example, from back-to-backs or three in a row. We think that potentially can lead to more injuries.”
o As he has in the past, Silver shot down the idea of expansion happening in the near-term, though he did again reiterate it is something that the league is going to do again at some point. He went on to say one potential issue is the dilution of talent as a result of expansion.
“Even sort of adding another 30 players or so that are roughly comparable, there still are only so many of the truly top-tier super talents to go around,” Silver said. “That is something on the mind of the other teams as we think about expansion.”
o Silver said the NBA has lost “hundreds of millions” because of its strained relationship with China, and said that is an acceptable cost of doing business when it comes to protecting free speech of the league’s players, coaches and workers.
“We accept that, and I said that at the time when we said we stand behind our players and team executives, their right to free expression, whether about issues in the United States or issues any place in the world, if those are the consequences, that’s what I mean that our values travel with us,” Silver said. “Others, as you know, since then have spoken out about their views around China and other places in the world, and if the consequences are that we’re taken off the air or we lose money, we accept that.”
Silver also said he continues to believe engaging with China is not inconsistent with the league’s values in light of alleged human-rights violations taking place within the country.
o When asked about women being far away from being a head coach, Silver said it remains a work in progress. He said Becky Hammon’s move to the WNBA as coach of the Las Vegas Aces shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing.
“But I’ve said it before, and I should have said earlier, there is no reason that women shouldn’t be head coaches and more of them shouldn’t be assistant coaches in the NBA,” Silver said. “There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be more women officials. We have made progress in both those areas around the league now. There are a lot more female assistants at our teams, but we do have to break through that glass ceiling.”
Silver also said the NBA increasing its number of black coaches to 15 with the hiring of Darvin Ham by the Los Angeles Lakers last month is a product of the league continuing to emphasize the need for diversity.
o When asked whether a positive test for COVID-19 next year would mean a player would be unable to play, Silver said that recommendation would come from medical personnel, and that it was too early to say, adding that the NBA is only a small part of the world in terms of learning how to live with the virus moving forward.