SBJ/Oct. 21-27, 2013/In Depth

Adam Silver's to-do list

Adam Silver will take over as NBA commissioner on Feb. 1, when he replaces David Stern during one of the league’s most prosperous eras. With the NBA’s collective-bargaining deal and a revamped revenue-sharing plan in place since 2011, teams are more financially competitive than ever. Franchise values are skyrocketing, the league’s global footprint is expanding, and a crop of superstar players is providing balance across the league. But Silver still has his work cut out for him as he looks to put his own stamp on the NBA.

TV talks
The league’s next media rights package will likely be the first major deal Silver will negotiate as commissioner.
Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

Make no mistake: The next media rights deal will be Silver’s deal, not Stern’s. It’s set up to be his first big deal and probably will be his biggest. Informal negotiations already have started with ESPN and Turner, even though their combined eight-year, $7.5 billion deals end after the 2015-16 season. With Fox Sports and NBC Sports also expressing interest, the new deals are certain to be a windfall for the league and offer Silver his first opportunity to make his own major imprint on the league.

Hire a No. 2?
Who will be the next NBA deputy commissioner? Will the job be a more hands-on operator or will the job entail more legal heft? Or will Silver decide that he doesn’t yet need to hire a second-in-command and go a different route? All are crucial questions for Silver as he sets up his own inner circle. If he does name an immediate deputy, will it be a current loyal top NBA executive? Someone like Joel Litvin, president of league operations, or Bill Koenig, executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel, or Mark Tatum, executive vice president of global marketing partnerships. Or will Silver go outside the league and bring in another executive?

Labor matters
Silver must forge an effective working relationship with whomever is named to replace ousted Billy Hunter as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. When a new union leader is named is anyone’s guess, but with long-term labor peace in hand, Silver has a rare and opportunistic chance to build a relationship from the ground up to grow the game.

Worldly view
Chinese fans of the Golden State Warriors cheer at this month’s Global Games in Beijing.
Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

No league has been as aggressive as the NBA in expanding its global footprint and Silver will no doubt drive even more overseas growth. With current NBA International President Heidi Ueberroth set to leave the league at the end of 2013, Silver will likely reorganize the league’s international structure and put in place his own agenda for international development.

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