Meeting the media at the conclusion of the NBA's board of governors meeting at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, NBA commissioner David Stern expressed measured optimism about the business of basketball in the years to come.
For instance, as Chris Sheridan has reported, in place of earlier dire predictions about a 2010-2011 salary cap as low as $52 million, the league now anticipates a $56.1 million salary cap next season.
Stern says the higher numbers are based on teams' "Herculean efforts" to sell tickets.
Other topics the commissioner addressed:
The Board of Governors approved two new uses of instant replay -- to determine whether a foul should be a "clear path" foul, and to review out-of-bounds calls throughout overtime, instead of only in the final two minutes. The changes will take effect next season.
Teams and the league, he says, had meaningful discussion about revenue sharing, with "robust revenue sharing" a major topic moving forward.
On the issue of resting players late in the season, the commissioner says the board had a "spirited discussion." Teams want to make their own decisions about how many minutes to play their players, and Stern said he generally agreed, "unless that discretion is abused."
Asked when Mikhail Prokhorov will take possession of the Nets, the commissioner says that the smart tactic for Prokhorov may be to put off closing until he can take "vacant possession" of the Brooklyn stadium property, which continues to be subject to much legal wrangling. Should it become pressing to take over the team to influence key off-season decisions, Stern says Prokhorov might then be wise to close the deal without resolving all the real estate legalities. Stern further reiterates that he has complete confidence Prokhorov will take possession of the Nets, and reports that the team is projecting the transaction will close in mid-May. Without adhering to any particular schedule, Stern assures "it's going to happen."
Also on the topic of Prokhorov, Stern brushes aside suggestions from a New Jersey congressman that Prokhorov may have run afoul of U.S. law in conducting business in Zimbabwe. "The law doesn't apply to Prokhorov," Stern says of the Russian national, whom the NBA says it has investigated thoroughly. "If it did, he'd be in complete compliance."