Silver unsure about intentional fouling, expects discussion

NEW YORK (AP) NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he is ''on the fence'' about intentional fouling away from the ball and expects the league to be ''very engaged'' about the tactic over the coming months.

A day after the San Antonio Spurs sent the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan to the foul line 17 times in a playoff victory, Silver said he once favored a rule change but now isn't pushing for one.

''I've gone back and forth,'' Silver said during a meeting with a group of Associated Press Sports Editors.

''I've sat in meetings with some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird who said that players should learn to make their free throws and it's part of the game. At the same time, it doesn't make for great television, so I'm on the fence right now.''

Silver said he finds it to be a ''fascinating'' strategy in some cases.

''But in other games I watch it and I think, `Oh my god, I feel people changing the channels,''' he said. ''So we're also an entertainment property that's competing against a lot of other options that people have for their discretionary time.''

Coaches use the strategy to disrupt an opposing team by fouling a poor free throw shooter, playing the percentages that he won't make both shots. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has said he doesn't like the way it looks but has used it against Shaquille O'Neal - where it got the nickname Hack-a-Shaq - and now against the Clippers' Jordan, who went 6 for 17 on Wednesday in San Antonio's 111-107 overtime victory.

Abolishing the tactic, also used against Dwight Howard, has been discussed before, but coaches wanted the option to use it. Silver said he expects it to be discussed by general managers at their meeting in May and by the Competition Committee in June.

The league could allow coaches to decline the foul and keep the ball, as in football; allow them to keep possession after the free throws; or do nothing at all.

''I've listened to owners change their point of view on it both ways. General managers and coaches as well,'' Silver said. ''Sometimes the issue with coaches and general managers, of course, it depends on who's on their roster at any given time as well, understandably. So it's our job to take a longer-term view of it, but I think that's one of those issues that we're going to be very engaged in over the next few months.''

The meeting Thursday came about a year after the release of recorded racist remarks by former Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Silver banned him from the league and threatened to strip him of the franchise if Sterling wouldn't sell.

''I would just say I felt the weight of the entire institution of the NBA on me, and I would say that includes all of those great players, great executives who came before me in this league,'' Silver said in looking back at the saga.

Now he focuses on what he calls ''competitive issues'' such as the draft lottery and the playoff format. Lottery reform fell short of approval in October, and Silver said it will be debated again. Owners recently discussed various tweaks to the playoffs, and if division winners should continue to get a top-four seed.

Portland is No. 4 in the West, ahead of Memphis and San Antonio despite a worse record, because it won the Northwest Division.

''I think we've got to go one way or the other,'' he said. ''We've got to act like it really matters and it's meaningful to win your division, or decide to go in another direction and decide we should be a league without divisions.''

---

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.