It had been a busy few hours for NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Tuesday night he had presented the Golden State Warriors the Larry O'Brien trophy after their series-deciding victory in Cleveland. Wednesday morning he was at The Courts at Mayo Square, the new 107,000-square-foot Taj Mahal-like practice facility for the Timberwolves and Lynx. The grand opening was attended by Silver, WNBA president Laurel Richie, Wolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor and Mayo CEO Dr. John Noseworthy.
Afterward, Silver called the facility — which he said was the most impressive he had seen — a catalyst for better things to come for a Wolves franchise that hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2004, but is set to pick first in next week’s draft.
“No doubt it’s a catalyst,” he said. “Of course you need the players. So they have a strong roster already,” Silver said, “which is going to be complemented by the first pick. But, part and parcel with modern sports, you need facilities like these.”
To Silver, the facility is the “icing on the cake” for the Wolves. “I think, no doubt, the best years are ahead for this franchise.”
Here is what Silver had to say on other league — and Wolves-related topics:
• On the possibility of the Wolves getting an All-Star game once Target Center is renovated: “They haven’t applied yet, but I’d love to come back here,” he said. “Early on in my career I was here for an All-Star Game [in 1994] and I’ve love to come back here.” To which Flip Saunders, Wolves president of basketball operations, pledged to make that application as soon as Target Center was done. But he also wondered aloud whether the new Vikings stadium wouldn’t be an ideal place to hold it.
• On the state of facilities in the NBA: “In some ways, it’s a bit of an arms race, but what I think our franchises are seeing is that, in this day and age, it’s absolutely necessary to have a state-of-the-art arena along with a state-of-the-art practice facility.”
Silver also said he is intrigued with the team’s affiliation with the Mayo Clinic.
• On Kevin Garnett perhaps someday getting into Wolves ownership: “Of course he can’t discuss that while he’s still a player. … But I think now we’re about to approve an Atlanta Hawks ownership group that includes Grant Hill. We have David Robinson in San Antonio. And you have Michael Jordan as the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. We love to see former players coming into ownership, and I would welcome, with open arms, Kevin Garnett becoming an owner one day as well.’’
• On Taylor, who considered selling the Wolves not long ago: “He ultimately decided, in discussion with me and others, that his true passion was these teams. He loved being involved in them, and I know he’d love to see championship success, not just as he’s had with the Lynx, but with the Timberwolves as well.”
• On the state of the game, Silver reiterated his belief that keeping players healthy is so important that he is looking at ways — including adjusting the schedule — to make it easier on players.
He said, again, that he’d like to see the minimum age in the league raised from 19 to 20, and that would be on the agenda when negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement began. And when will that be? The NBA Players association has indicated it will opt out of the current deal after the 2016-17 season. Silver said that, given that reality, he hoped talks would begin soon.