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Carroll School of Management

Adam Silver

Commissioner, NBA

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston

March 12, 2014

TAKEAWAY: Development League

So, many of you may not even have heard of it. So our development league is, from a basketball standpoint, the next best basketball in the world, after the NBA, and any NCAA Division 1 coach would acknowledge that. 

From a business standpoint, it’s a combination of an attempt to run an independent minor league, but also an important training ground, not just for basketball players in the league, but for executives as well. 

From that standpoint, it’s going very well. In fact, the Knicks announced just Monday of this week that they’re going to be launching a new development league team in Westchester County in White Plains, New York, near where I grew up. The Nets are talking about doing something similar out on Long Island. 

And I think ultimately it requires some adjustments in our collective bargaining agreement, I think, to take it to the next level, where now we don’t have that same baseball minor league notion of two-way contracts where—unless you’re sending your player—the Celtics are sending their player down to the development league team, the rights to those development league teams, even if it’s an affiliate of an NBA team, those players are not controlled by that team, so it doesn’t afford the proper incentive for you to develop that player, because you may be developing that player for another team. 

I think as we move closer to one-to-one relationships more in what’s typical in a baseball minor league system, that those incentives will be aligned. And I think our union understands that as well and they ultimately see it can lead to more jobs, and to this notion of true two-way contracts of players going back and forth. 

So I have great hope for that development league. I think there’s no doubt there’s demand for this next level of basketball in the United States, and for affordable basketball entertainment, and I think ultimately, our owners feel the same way. It’s an important investment in terms of a laboratory to improve the game and a place for executives to train as well.