Silver: NBA to reassess Team Ignite in wake of NIL

Silver: NBA to reassess Team Ignite in wake of NIL

Tooba Shakir 2 months ago 0

INDIANAPOLIS — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called into question the future of the G League Ignite, saying that the introduction of the name, image and likeness policy into the college basketball landscape has diminished the need for the league to potentially continue the program.

“I think given that that’s happened, I think we are in the process of reassessing Team Ignite,” Silver said Saturday night as part of his annual All-Star weekend news conference here at Lucas Oil Stadium. “Because now some of those same players who didn’t want to be one-and-done players because they felt it was unfair and they wanted the ability not just to earn a living playing basketball but to do commercial deals that weren’t available to them at college, to hire professional agents, an opportunity that wasn’t available to them at college, they now — all of those same opportunities have become available to them.

“I’m not sure what the future of Team Ignite will be, because before there was a hole in the marketplace that we thought we were filling before doing that, and now my focus is turning to earlier development of those players.”

This is the fourth season that the Ignite has been in existence. It’s a program that was originally created, as Silver said, to provide a path for pre-draft eligible players to be paid to play basketball before being eligible to enter the NBA due to the league’s age limit for prospects.

The league touted it as a chance to give players significant money before they could be eligible to make millions by being drafted into the league and the program landed several high-level prospects over the past few years as a result.

But with the introduction of NIL bringing the ability for college players to make significant money while going to school, it’s reduced the need for the NBA to create such a feeder program into the league. And while the program has produced several high draft picks — including Scoot Henderson (No. 3 in 2023), Dyson Daniels (No. 8 in 2022) and Jalen Green (No. 3 in 2021) — this year has been a difficult one on the court.

The Ignite have gone 6-31 this season and have the league’s worst offensive rating (102.6 points per 100 possessions) and net rating (negative 12.7 points per 100 possessions) with a roster featuring several players who are draft-eligible prospects.

One of those top draft prospects, Ron Holland, recently told Andscape’s Marc Spears he will not be coming back this season after undergoing thumb surgery, allowing him to fully focus on preparing for the NBA Draft.

Silver also discussed the state of the entire American youth basketball system, something he’s previously cited as a concern, and said that could be an area the league moves to focus on in the future.

“If you’re seeing now, what we’re seeing in terms of that close to 30 percent of the league, players born outside the United States, it’s clear that the development is very different in many of those programs outside the United States,” Silver said. “[There’s] more of a focus on practice, less of a focus on games, which seems to be the opposite of many of the youth programs in the United States.

“I think that now we’ve begun discussions with the NCAA, the vast majority of the top players will play in college and never play in the NBA, of course, so we have a common interest in just improving the game, developing players.

“[Players are] coming into the league incredibly skilled, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to being team basketball players. And then what I’m hearing from some of those same coaches that may be complaining about inability to play defense is that these players are not as prepared as I’d like them to be, particularly as very high draft picks.”

Silver also touched on several other topics, including:

– Amid a season where there’s been a lot of discussion about the referees, including referee Jacyn Goble incorrectly calling a foul on New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson to hand a win to the Houston Rockets Monday night, Silver said the league will make improving communication between referees and players a “real area of focus” moving forward.

“I’m so sympathetic to both players who feel that an official missed a call, and sometimes they do, and I’m incredibly sympathetic to officials who have some of the hardest jobs in sports and are under a microscope and occasionally, of course, do miss calls, and we acknowledge when they do,” Silver said. “I think what makes me most frustrated are precisely issues you’re referring to — the communication issues sort of between players and officials. I feel that’s an area we should be able to do a better job, both ways.

“There just has to be a two-way sense of respect. I’m sympathetic to the frustration and feel it’s an area where we can make progress.”

– Silver said he was “unsure” if supermax eligibility needs to be decoupled from the media voting process for awards, adding that while there has been a lot of discussion about the merits of the 65 game eligibility rule for voting, only time will tell if it’s working.

“The notion was we needed to further incentivize players, particularly star players, to play more games,” Silver said. “So I’m not ready to say that it isn’t working so far. I can tell you that the number of games that players have participated in is up this season, and interestingly enough, injuries are actually down. Whether that’s meaningful data yet, I don’t know.

“I think the right time to take a further look at this rule is at the end of the season when we sort of at least have a year under our belt.”

– Silver shot down the idea of increasing All-Star Game roster sizes, saying there wasn’t a need to go from 24 total (12 in each conference) to 30 (15 in each conference) to mimic the change in roster sizes across the league.

“There’s no plan now to add roster spots,” Silver said. “I think part of the issue is, even though you’re right, we’ve expanded the number of teams, we haven’t expanded the number of minutes, and there’s still only one ball. And then the question is how do you distribute those minutes among the All-Stars?

“Also, I think when we sat down with the players and discussed this during bargaining, there is that sense of specialness in being an All-Star or being one of 24 as opposed to being one of a larger number.”

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