The Hardwood Nation, No Bias, No Spin, Just Basketball

Monday, March 16, 2015

Adidas to end partnership with NBA

Official Press Release

“We have decided to not renew our partnership as official outfitter of the NBA after our current contract expires following the 16-17 season. While we have enjoyed a successful long-term relationship with the league, we continually review our partner agreements to ensure they are meeting our investment and delivering on our brand and business needs. We are reimagining and reshaping our business and have evolved our strategy to look at new, cutting-edge ways to drive our brand and support our business over the long term. We will invest more in telling stories that matter to our consumer, building category-disrupting innovative products, reinvigorating youth basketball with our new Next Generation programs and doubling our roster of professional athletes to authenticate our brand on-court.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

Warriors GM Bob Myers on texting players and the difference between being a GM and a player agent (Video)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Q&A: Warriors Owner Joe Lacob

Courtesy of Chris Ballard

On the track record of the Warriors’ front office over the last few years:
“I pinch myself. We’ve been on a roll with every decision we’ve made [and] when you have a roll, you’ve got to keep throwing the dice. …But it’s a little more even than that. You’re thinking mainly basketball. But I look at this job as three components: basketball, the business and our future business, which is San Francisco. If you think we’re on a hot streak on one, you have to understand we’ve done the same thing on the other two.”
On his future with the Warriors:
“This is a longtime thing for me. This is my second career. I’ve got my son involved and will probably get another son involved…I have a very long-term view.”
On his biggest mistake on both the business side and the basketball side:
(Upon hearing the question, Lacob blows out audibly, then pauses for thirty second or so)
“Honestly, I'm not a guy who looks backward. If I make a mistake, I like to learn from mistakes….you don’t understand success until you experience failure. You need to learn from mistakes. I’m sure we’ve had some, not a lot though.
"On the business side, my attitude when I came in was, we weren’t going to do anything for the first six months. Everyone said, fire this guy, fire that guy, and I’d been a season-ticket holder here for 20 years and had my own opinions. We decided, and I decided, that we weren’t going to do anything for six months. Because we bought in November.
"In retrospect, I kind of wasted six months. Because I did exactly what I thought I would do. I can’t really say it was a mistake, but I probably didn’t need to wait six months.
"I like to make my own decisions, based on my experience with someone. So if you work with me and everyone tells me you’re a jerk, I try not to judge you. I like to judge you on what you do while I’m here. So I could have moved faster probably, and I didn’t. And as a result of that, I was very nervous going into the second season. We fired all these people and I didn’t know who was going to open the doors, who was going to run the place. I was scared, really scared. Fortunately, we had a lockout.”
On his biggest basketball mistake:
“On the basketball side, hmmm…If other people answered this question, I know what they’d say. We should have amnestied someone early on and then when we did amnesty—we did this small Charlie Bell thing…but you know, I don’t really believe that and I know people would disagree with me. I felt like we did what at the time we felt we should do. We were trying to get DeAndre Jordan, which everyone knows. He was worth it, look how well he’s done. I'm guessing in retrospect, other people would say we should have saved the amnesty for a bigger moment. I’m not sure I really agree with that. You can’t look back. At the time it was the right thing to do…What people fail to realize is that every decision has an impact on what you do later. Maybe you don’t do something and a year later you’re able to do something different.”
On whether they will go into the luxury tax in the coming year:
“Bob [Myers] keeps saying I must have the only owner in the NBA who says, ‘Stop worrying about the luxury tax.’ Even today I said, ‘I don’t care about the luxury tax.’ I don’t want to make decisions based on the luxury tax. We want to get better. Our job is to get better. Secondarily, we’ll worry about the money.”
So you’ll go into the tax?
“Absolutely. Right now, we have no choice, unless we were to go make some massive deal. Look, we’ve done well, our fans expect us to at this point do that if we need to do it and we certainly have every intention of doing it.”
On re-signing Draymond Green:
“I have to be careful, because the NBA has a rule now, can’t make claims like, ‘Don’t go after Draymond.’ All I will say is if you know us, we’re really trying to build around our draft. We really have been very good at a few drafts. And our core of young players is what we need to build around. We’re very fortunate. We have what everybody wants now. Steph, 26, Klay, 24, Draymond, 25, Harrison, 22. Four key great young talents that are really at the core of what we’re doing, obviously supplemented by the Boguts and Lees and the guys who are a little older.
"It would take a lot to not sign our core players. Does that answer your question?”
On whether he still talks to Mark Jackson:
“Are we buddies? I wouldn’t say that (Lacob laughs). I talked to him when he was at the game here, recently, and had a good conversation. The funny thing about Mark is, I really like Mark, and everyone perceives that somehow we didn’t get along. That’s just not true. Don’t think we ever had a cross word. So he’s a good guy. We wish him well. He did a really good job for us. At the time, he was absolutely the right guy to hire. He did what we needed. Just like when I came in as the new owner, I needed to be out front, be the face of the franchise —not something I wanted to do by the way, but someone had to do that.”
On when he decided to pull back publicly:
“The last year or so, I guess. I’m still not a shrinking violet. I think it’s important with our fan base for ownership to be transparent and to be visible. If we do well, we should be visible and if we don’t’ do well, we should be visible. I’m willing to take the heat, I understand that’s part of the process. And sometimes I do need to take the heat, as opposed to Bob or Steve. I certainly don’t need to be what I was four years ago or three or two years, as far as how exposed.”
On the value of an owner like Mark Cuban being out there:
“Look, Mark Cuban is a brand. You have to understand what Mark is doing. He’s a personal brand. Has his TV show. Has his own reason for what he’s doing. I respect him for that, that’s what he wants to do and be. But, on the other hand, I think he gets away with stuff no one else can get away with.”
On dealing with the media:
“The hardest thing I’ve had to do in five years here and learn is the media. It ain’t what it was even 10 years ago. Everybody has a voice, everybody is the media. The first year I made some big mistakes. [In regards to local columnist] Tim Kawakami early on, and now I’ve managed to get that all on the right side. But at least once a year I know I’m going to say something and it will be used against me.”
On the comment about Jackson at the VC lunch:
“I momentarily forgot my cardinal rule, which is whenever something comes out these lips, I’ve got to assume it’s public. But you have to understand, I’ve spent 30 years in that industry, a lot of those people are friends. A lot of it was about VC, and transition from VC to sports and how did you do that, and what are the similarities. It was in the context of all that unfortunately. Everything I said was fine, but I went too far on a couple statements.
"I had to apologize but the truth was, I went too far. It’s my mistake. The best thing I’ve learned, from early on: even if you don’t think you made a mistake by doing something, just say you made a mistake.”
On the night he was booed at the Chris Mullin jersey retirement:
“That was the hardest moment I’ve ever gone through in my life. I thought we were doing a great job, getting out there, trying to retire a guy’s number, paid for all of it but….I shouldn’t have been the last guy. In retrospect, having said that, that was a very difficult moment. On TV, in front of all those people. It felt like 20,000 people booing and I don’t feel like we did anything wrong and whether it’s circumstance or whatever, it happened.
"I was up all night. I went on KNBR next day. I didn’t honestly totally believe what I was saying, but I said, ‘Hey I would have booed too.’ Because, honestly, there was no winning.”
On the type of pickup player he is:
A fuller scouting report:
"A high school player. Everyone who plays with me would say the same thing: shoots threes. Which is what I do, I basically shoot threes. However I can get one to be honest. I play with a bunch of guys that are mixed age, from 20s to 50s. I’m on the old end of the spectrum now but I still can run all day and I can shoot threes and every now and then get a drive to the basket because people don’t expect it. Everyone knows their role in this game: they know Joe's going to shoot threes if he gets it. They have the same moves they’ve been doing their whole lives.
"I think that at my age, I’m pretty proud that I can play with guys in the 20s, 30s, 40s and I can play.
"The only thing that hurts is when we play games at our practice facility, with some of our coaching staff, that I don’t seem to do too well in, because that dang NBA three-point line is a whole lot different. I used to play on the college court. 
"But I do like to shoot those threes.”

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Q&A: Adam Silver

Courtesy of NBA TV

Q. Adam, on playoffs and possible changes, when you read the room with your owners, what's the feedback? What kind of split might you have when it comes to the idea of change? And then do you think this postseason coming up will have any more of a ripple effect than maybe years past in terms of which teams get in? 

SILVER:  Obviously, Sam, just to be clear we're not talking about any changes for this year. 
In terms of our owners, I haven't polled them necessarily on this issue yet.  And this process should work its way through the Competition Committee.  As you might imagine, there are certain Eastern Conference owners who like the status quo and certain Western Conference owners who are saying change is due. 

But on the other hand, I think we have a group of owners who are willing to take a long‑term view ultimately.  They understand over time that we're in a highly competitive marketplace.  That we want to put our best foot forward.  That we want the best product on the court.  That's been the way they've approached all our issues. 
So as I said, I think it's a difficult issue, because there are no perfect solutions.  And on one hand to the extent you increase the amount of travel, it goes directly against my first issue on reducing wear and tear on our players, and ensuring that on any given night our players are playing at the optimum level.
It's early days but we're going to take a very hard look at it. 

Q. Adam, as far as your scheduling concerns, what role could a concentrated preseason play in helping with that issue? And how likely will we see some changes there soon? 

SILVER:  Actually in response to Sam's question, I have talked to a lot of our basketball people about the preseason.  And my sense is, that while they still feel a training camp and a fairly long training camp is still critically important, especially because we have a lot of young players in this league and there isn't a lot of practice time once the season starts, I think they don't think the preseason games are as valuable as they once were, in terms of the conditioning of their players, in terms of getting a chance to truly observe players in game conditions. 

So I could see a scenario where while we'll continue to have a fairly lengthy preseason, we may be able to shorten it a little bit, and that will help with some of our scheduling issues, and we may be able to reduce the number of preseason games. 

Q. Commissioner, Portland has put in a bid to host the 2017 or '18 All‑Star Game. What's the likelihood that they could get one of those dates and the challenges that they may have to go through? 

SILVER:  Too early to say.  What we've talked to Portland about and other interested cities for beyond Toronto, which is next year's All‑Star Game, is one of the issues historically for communities like Portland is frankly the number of hotel rooms. As I said, we have 1,800 credentialed members of the media alone in need of hotel rooms. Then we have thousands of guests who come to town as well. 

So I would love to end up having an All‑Star Game in Portland.  It's really just a function of ensuring that we can fit in town. 

Q. Adam, one of your clear objectives during collective bargaining was to competitively rebalance the league, give everyone a well‑managed and fair chance. But if the TV money all comes in all at once in two years, you could have a situation where the Lakers would have as much as $80 million of cap room. The Knicks could have 50.  Miami, although you don't consider that a large city, but still a free agent destination, could have 60 million in cap room. Did you anticipate this potential consequence of what's otherwise a good problem to have a lot of money coming in, but to also have an undoing of the progress made on competitive balance? And what is, in your opinion, a realistic, negotiated solution to the problem? 

SILVER: Well, when you say did we anticipate it, it's what our system is.  The players receive on a sliding scale roughly‑‑ it ranges from 49 to 51 percent, as we negotiated the deal.  And because of the revenue targets we hit, the players will receive 51 percent of the new television money. 

And so, no, at the time we negotiated the deal, we weren't projecting that our television increases would be as large as they are‑‑

Q.  I'm sorry. I meant when you negotiated the television deal. 

SILVER:  No, when we negotiated the collective bargaining agreement we weren't then anticipating that this many years out that we would have this quick a jump in our television rights fees, but that's where the market has taken us.  As a result of those big increases that we know will now come in in the 2016‑'17 season, we approached the Union with a so‑called smoothing concept.  And just so it's clear, under that smoothing concept, the players would still receive 51 percent of the money that year.  But what we proposed is that we would lower the cap, artificially as the Union has characterized it to a lower level, then what would otherwise be 51 percent of the revenue.  The delta between where we lowered it and the 51 percent would be paid in a lump sum to the Union to be distributed to all the players.  And in that way‑ and this goes to the essence of your question‑ there would be a smoothing in of the increases, and you wouldn't see a one‑year spike in the salary cap.
That's something we presented to the Union.  Ultimately it's up to them to decide what is in the interest of the Players' Association.  I have a feeling there will be additional discussions.  I know they had a meeting last night and they made an announcement following their meeting.  I haven't had a chance to engage with the Union directly since they had that meeting last night.  My sense is there will be additional discussions.  But ultimately that is what our system is under the current collective bargaining agreement. 

And it's like a lot of things in business and in sports that you sort of you deal with this situation as it's presented to you.  And I don't want to act like it's a terrible problem to have, where we're thrilled that based on the interest in the NBA we're able to command these big increases in the television market.  And we will live with our deal.  It was structured in a way where 51 percent of that revenue, in essence, gets paid to our players. 

Q.  Adam, with the scheduling, the making of the schedule, is there any discussion or will there be or can there be about the calendar simply starting earlier, ending later than what you already do, or are you pretty much locked into a Halloween start and a June 20th end and that's got to be the way it is? 

SILVER: Sure, Brian. And I think that goes to the earlier question about the preseason. Training camp is critically important to our teams. Could we shorten it up a little bit if we didn't have quite the same number of preseason games, and then add those days in the regular season, so we would gain a little bit at the beginning?  And the question is towards the end of this season, can we push a little bit further in June closer to the Draft? I think there had been discussions‑‑ well, I wouldn't characterize them as discussions.  I've heard proposals about them moving The Finals past the Fourth of July. Generally the view has been ‑‑ in addition it just feels out of sync once you get into the summer ‑‑  historically those haven't been viewed as the best television nights, once you get into July, and just in terms of households watching TV. 

I will say maybe that's something we should look at, too. If we're truly going to take a fresh look at this, we have to examine what the appropriate time is to begin the season and when we should end it. 

But at least without a major overhaul in the way our season is now played, you're right, we can gain a little bit at the beginning of the season. We can gain a little bit at the end. When it comes to four games out of five nights and back‑to‑backs, literally every day matters. So that will be helpful to pick up a few more days on both sides of the schedule. 

Q.  Adam, you've come out and said that you think that the age limit should go up to 20. Michele Roberts from the Union came out pretty staunchly that she doesn't want to see that happen.  First of all, how much was it a priority to you to resolve this one way or another within the breadth of issues you have within the Union? You can't really compromise here; I guess not 19 1/2.  Where do you see this going? 

SILVER: When you say it has to be resolved, obviously it's 19 right now.  We had proposed 20 the last round of collective bargaining. And it remained at 19. I've been very clear, when you say how big a priority is it for me? I think consistent with my priority about youth basketball.   think it would be much better for the game if the minimum age were 20 instead of 19. 

Having said that, I do understand the other side of the issue. While the Union has stated its view that they want to keep it at 19, we haven't entered collective bargaining. We haven't sat across the table and discussed it with them. We haven't had an opportunity to present, in essence, our side of why we think it would be beneficial not just for the league, but for the players as well. 

So we'll see. When we get into bargaining, I'm sure we'll discuss it. 

Q. The last few years there has been a pretty significant decrease in home‑court advantage for teams. I think this year it's around 52 or 53 percent in terms of win percentage. Some of that has been attributed to the fact that there's a decrease in number of foul calls for the home team. Is that something the League has pushed for with its referees in terms of trying to eliminate home‑court advantage or how would you characterize why that is taking place? 

SILVER: Tim, I don't know the answer to that question. It's definitely not something we've pushed for. I think it's one of those things that's too early to say whether that's just a statistical blip or whether there's a trend there. That's just the nature of data. And so there's certainly no directive about home or away. It just may be that the teams as they've gotten more sophisticated in terms of analytics, they have a better understanding of defenses and offenses. There's more of a focus on every game now maybe than there was historically. 
But I don't know the answer to that. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Q&A: Neil Olshey

Courtesy of Mike Richman

This has to be a good feeling

Yeah it does. It feels great. Paul Allen's been an unbelievable owner since the day I got here. He's committed unlimited resources to rebuilding the organization from the business division, to basketball, the coaching staff and he's delivered on that. The fact that he sees where the organization is heading and is willing to embrace the current philosophy that we have and support all of us is just unparalleled.

It's got to be nice to be able to carry out your vision

Look, one of the things that's really important to get across is that it's collective. I'm not the only one up in that office. We have 40 or 50 people that work up there everyday. And the efforts of all those people, whether it's the scouts, the front office, people back of the house, the job Terry (Stotts) and his staff have done has been unbelievable. But knowing that you have someone you can turn to from a leadership standpoint like Paul, when you need help, when you need guidance, when you need resources and he's always there and he's so committed to the organization, it gives you a blanket of comfort knowing that you've got the support.

What does the new title mean and does it change anything in your day to day?

Nothing. What the title does - I really appreciate it - but what it does is that in the event at some point if we want to hire, or promote from within, someone to the General Manager level we wouldn't be restricted, by title, that the General Manager positions was already taken. Like I said, down the road if there was a talent available or if internally we wanted to make sure we kept someone's services and the title was an issue, we now have a title open there as opposed to having it closed off.

When you came to Portland did you think it would be like this?

I hoped so. I didn't leave for nothing. I love the Los Angeles Clippers and I had a great run there. It was hard for my wife and my family, my kids to move out of the only city they'd ever lived in, but they were willing to do it to support me. Like I said, it all just kind of worked in place. We hired Terry, he's been an incredible coach. Chris (McGowan) came on board not longer after me after me and completely revamped everything going on up here. And Like I said, having Paul embrace the vision of every one; what goes on on the court, off the court, behind the scenes. It's been a great run so far and I think we just got to the point where we were relevant quicker than we anticipated. Now the key is to sustain that and I know Paul drives us every day to make sure we put the best product on court for the fans. I think right now we've got the fans, the season ticket holders, in a really good place in terms of their support of the team and the kind of guys and culture that we have. And it's our job everyday that we keep that as consistent as possible.

Is there an accomplishment you are most proud of?

I think culturally. I think that we've never had to address an off the court incident since we were here while we're winning. It's one thing to do that and have a bunch of choir boys and not win as many games, but to have guys that are great guys as well as great players. The work that these guys do...we were at Doernbecher during the holidays, watching the guys interact with those kids. We're going to St. Mary's later on this month...just how committed our players are in the community and knowing how important they are and the presence the Trail Blazers have in this marketplace. That while being able to win games is probably the thing I'm most proud of.

Can you speak to the growth of your young players this year?

Look, that's a testament to the coaching staff. Terry and his assistants are on the floor everyday working with these guys, watching film. They're a big part of what we do even if they're not getting the minutes they normally would. And look some of our young players are a little bit hamstrung that they got drafted by a lottery team and they woke up as a second round playoff team. Just the reality is that teams don't win at the level we're winning at with young players and they've got to wait their turn. But what we are all pleased with is that Terry shows the confidence in them to play them in big moments. It's very rare that you see an guy go from the inactive list to a starting small forward and see a team go 4-0. We saw a great effort from Meyers the other night. Everybody has stepped up. And I think more than anything, our young guys are ego-less. They know their minutes are going to be situational and they'll sit and wait and support each other when they get their chance and when the veterans come back they're willing to take a back seat again.

Timing-wise was it good to get this out of the way mid-season?

I was open to doing this whenever Paul and Bert Kolde and the organization were willing to do it. I came up here and I joked a lot about the rain and it was a culture shock for my family, but not unlike Chris' kids, my kids love it here. I'm not so happy they decide to go to shorts and a T-shirt to school everyday when it's 38 and raining, but they're Oregonians now. They love it here. My wife's happy. And quite honestly, my life is my job. As long as things are going well with  the Trail Blazers every  day I come to work, and they are, I'm happy. The concern is for me is how my family is doing. And they love it here and they're happy off the court. So if my family is happy in their personal life and I'm doing what our owner needs us to do in my professional life then everything is going in the right direction.

Is there an advantage to having this deal done help maintain player or lure free agents, because players know you're going to be here long term?

Well I think from a consistency standpoint, the relationship not just with the players but with their agents, you've got an open line of communication. You know what's important to the players. You know what direction they want to go in in terms of the rest of their career or the next step. That helps. At the end of the day the players in this organization trust this organization. They trust Paul's commitment, they trust the Trail Blazers, they trust the infrastructure that's in place and the culture and they trust the style of basketball that we play. And that's what's paramount to them. At the end of the day, whether I'm the general manager or I'm not the general manger that doesn't change much quite honestly. But as long as the culture is the one we've built and the one that they're embracing right now and that they're performing in that's what going to make them make a decision hopefully to stay with us when they become free agents.

Where does this team go?

One of the things we talked about when we took over was sustainability and I think the key was to prove to everybody was to prove that last year wasn't a fluke; that the core of this team can compete for a championship and being a factor in the playoff race. I think, we're only a third of the way through the season, but I think there enough positive indicators to know we're on the right track. We'll look for opportunities if we can to improve the roster to give Terry and his staff and better chance of competing at a higher level. But at the end of the day we're comfortable with where we are evidenced by tonight. How many national television games do we have this year relative to previous year? Which means there's an appetite nationally for the style of basketball that we play and the success that we've had.

Trail Blazers reward general manager Neil Olshey with multiyear contract extension (Video)

Hawks officially announce plan to sell

Official Press Release

“The Atlanta Hawks today announced that its owners have unanimously approved a plan to sell the franchise and the Philips Arena operating rights. The sale will commence immediately. Atlanta Hawks Basketball and Entertainment, LLC has retained Goldman Sachs & Co. and Inner Circle Sports LLC to advise on the sale of the franchise and ancillary assets.”