NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has looked to have a vendetta for the Philadelphia 76ers ever since ‘The Process’ started. However, his recent ruling involving James Harden might show a change of heart.
Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie ran rings around the NBA league office, led by Commissioner Silver, when he was running the team during ‘The Process’. Every roster and salary loophole Silver had left in the league rules, Hinkie ran a Mack truck through it.
Silver did have the last laugh, as he talked owner Josh Harris into hiring Jerry Colangelo as an ‘advisor’ to Hinkie. How did that go? Here is part of a Sixers Sense story from Rusty Gorelick that ran four years ago:
"Adam Silver and Jerry and Bryan Colangelo ruined all of (Hinkie’s work). Silver came in and forced the Sixers to hire Jerry Colangelo as an “advisor” to Hinkie, but he quickly ended up seizing control of the team and leaving while handing complete control of the front office to his son.Not only did his son nearly ruin the team’s morale by disclosing classified information to his Twitter-happy wife, but he also waited to trade Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor until their values were almost nothing."
Eventually, Silver closed the salary cap loopholes and, to prevent other NBA teams from following Hinkie’s lead in tanking, the odds for the bottom teams of getting the No. 1 overall pick in the draft were cut down.
And Silver has not given the Sixers a break since. You know at the start of the free agency period every year, as soon as the clock starts, comes a torrent of Tweets from ‘Shams’ and ‘Woj’ announcing a bunch of signings. Somehow, four-year, $100 million deals were negotiated in the first 45 seconds of free agency.
Silver punishes the 76ers for what everyone else does.
It’s a big ‘wink, wink’ as, obviously, these deals were already agreed upon.
However, when the Miami Heat protested the signing of P.J. Tucker as being made before the free agency period (i.e. what everyone else does), Silver hammered the Sixers for tampering with glee.
He stripped the Sixers of a second-round draft pick for signing Tucker and, for good measure, also took away another second-rounder for the supposed rule-breaking signing of guard Danuel House.
Two second-rounders for two – at best- role players? Even if the Sixers did pull the gun early, a simple fine would seem to suffice.
So, when it was announced that the NBA would investigate James Harden calling current general manager Daryl Morey ‘a liar’, Sixers fans could only expect the worst.
Pigs fly? Adam Silver backs the Philadelphia 76ers.
All signs pointed toward the Sixers being punished for – well – being the Sixers.
- The investigation was unsolicited. The draft tampering at least was sparked by another team’s complaint. Neither Harden nor Morey had asked the NBA office to look into it.
- The NBA almost always protects its superstars. They are the reason people watch the games, which gives the owners all that big TV revenue.
- Morey is not as high on Silver’s hit parade as it is, having caused damage to their relationship with China by showing support for Hong Kong a few years ago. Did I mention owners like all that big TV revenue?
Yet, when the decision came down, it went in the Sixers’ favor, as Harden was fined $100,000 for talking about not fulfilling his contract with the Sixers this year.
Did Silver finally have a change of heart? Did he finally forgive the Sixers (Morey is the fourth GM they have had since Hinkie after all) for all the trouble ‘The Process’ caused him and is ready to let bygones be bygones?
Maybe. But Silver had some other reasons to back the Sixers in this instance.
- Silver has looked weak as stars like Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis have seemingly not only made trade requests but have been able to dictate which teams they are traded to. Since Silver has let it happen, Damian Lillard and Harden now want the same thing.
- Since stars only want to go to the big cities or big programs, the competitiveness of the smaller clubs is weakened. Harden is certainly not accepting a trade to Charlotte or Indiana, so why should fans bother as, with Silver watching helplessly, players move to where they want? Those small area owners don’t like it either, as it devalues their franchise.
- The opening of training camp is supposed to be a time of positivity for all NBA teams. Even the Detroit Pistons are coming in with optimism (full disclosure, I also write for Piston Powered, and really, their fans are fired up). To have a bunch of ugly holdouts or, more Harden’s style, show up and cause trouble, is not something Silver wants.
Although surprising, it is a good thing for the Sixers that Silver gave them a rare sign of support. With the NBA showing Harden it will not just fold as usual when a star wants something, he might be open to other teams to get traded to, or just stay with the Sixers.