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Clippings: Adam Silver tries to convince NBA players to play

Commissioner goes on national TV to make his appeal.

BASKET-NBA-MILWAUKEE-CHARLOTTE Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was part of the bonanza of guests on a special edition of SportsCenter Monday, welcoming back (most) team sports.

While Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred had the roughest segment, his league melting down over financial disputes and still no plan to get back to play, Silver used much of his time talking to Mike Greenberg about the NBA’s understanding of player concerns at this time.

“I can only say [returning to play right now] may not be for everyone,” Silver said. “I mean, it will entail enormous sacrifice. On behalf of those players and, and for everyone involved the coaches, the referees. Listen, it’s not an ideal situation, where we’re trying to find a way to our own normal in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of essentially a recession or worse with 40 million unemployed. And now with enormous social unrest in the country. And so as we work through these issues, I can understand how some players may feel that it’s not for them and as you said it could be for a host of reasons. It may be for family reasons, it may be for health reasons they have or maybe because they feel as some players have said very recently that their time is best spent elsewhere.”

Silver is responding to the twin concerns around the continued presence of coronavirus and safety to try and mitigate risk of that for players who will be participating in the bubble tournament in Orlando, and the social protests that have led to a reckoning about racial injustice in our society. With a segment of players in recent days making an about-face from the previous approval given by the Players Association to begin the tournament in Orlando, many reportedly considering a focus on social activism over playing basketball, Silver was optimistic the league would meet in the middle with the players, but that there would not be retribution if a player sat out.

“My sense is we’re going to be able to work through most of those issues over the next few weeks,” Silver said. “But as I said we also have an arrangement with the Players Association where if a player chooses not to come it’s not a breach of his contract.”

Silver emphasized the amount of downtime players will have in Florida when not playing games, saying players will have a platform bigger than they would normally have, and that the league is looking into supplemental programs to help advance the players’ desire for activism while also playing. All in all, Silver was putting in a hard press to players to show up with his remarks.

And for those fans who have misgivings of a tournament at this stage, Silver said the point of it is not to recoup financial losses as much as to get back to some semblance of normal life.

“Absolutely, you know, will there be hardship along the way. I should say, too, that there are a lot of people pointed to the financial component of this... [The] incremental difference between at this point playing and not playing isn’t nearly as great as people think, especially given the enormous expense, putting this on. Really, it’s more a sense from the entire NBA community that we have an obligation to try this because the alternative is to stay on the sidelines and the alternative is to, in essence, give in to this virus,” he said.

In the immediate aftermath of the interview, some on social media chafed at Silver’s characterization of coronavirus as something like a terrorist. Having said all that, compared to Manfred’s interview, Silver came off far, far better than his counterpart.

More news for Tuesday:

  • Coalition emerges to release statement: Before Silver’s remarks were released Monday night, a coalition of players, as well as WNBA players and unnamed members of the entertainment field, released a statement to ESPN about what they are working for. The group is fronted by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley, with other members said not to be ready to speak out publicly for fear of retribution.
  • Green a secret weapon for Clippers in playoffs? Bleacher Report includes JaMychal Green as a potential secret weapon in the playoffs, albeit in a different spot than we’ve seen him this season.
  • Zubac ranked best “free agent” contract in NBA: Over at The Athletic, John Hollinger ranks Ivica Zubac as the best mid-level deal in the league, estimating he will well overperform his peers in financial terms to the Clippers’ benefit.
  • Hughes up for Pistons GM: Adrian Wojnarowski reports Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes is one of three finalists for the Pistons’ GM position. The Pistons aren’t going to Orlando so they’ll be working quickly to wrap up that hire.