Russ Granik's replacement as deputy NBA commissioner is all but certain to be Adam Silver, the president of NBA Entertainment.
The 43-year-old Silver's promotion to the league's No. 2 spot will become official next week if approved by the league's Board of Governors, sources told ESPN.com.
Silver's promotion was expected, but it certainly took longer than anticipated. NBA Commissioner David Stern had said early in the regular season that he expected to announce front-office changes by the All-Star break, but it took another two months for him to make the final decision to elevate Silver to be his right-hand man. Silver's late father, Edward, was a senior partner at Proskauer Rose, the law firm that employed Stern before he joined the NBA as general counsel in 1978.
There was some scuttlebutt last week that chief legal counsel Joel Litvin would get the job, but those rumors proved to be unfounded. Instead, Stern will ask the Board, with one representative from each of the league's 30 ownership groups, to approve the promotion of Silver, who also runs the league's international business operations. The Duke grad has been with the league office since 1992.
Silver will presumably assume Granik's role as the bad cop -- at least publicly -- in commenting on collective bargaining matters, along with being the face of the league on draft night when the second-round picks are announced. Chants of "Russ, Russ" have become a common refrain on draft night at Madison Square Garden after Stern finishes calling out the names of the first-round picks. Silver also is expected to retain many of his duties with NBA Entertainment.
Granik announced his resignation earlier this season, effective at the end of the playoffs. He will remain with the league as a consultant, but Granik's ambition is to ascend to a higher-echelon position such as the one held by Stern, who has been commissioner for 22 years and has expressed no desire to step down anytime soon. Stern has told owners he expects to remain at the helm at least through the 2009-10 season.
One possibility for Granik could be the soon-to-be-vacant commissioner's job at the NFL, where Paul Tagliabue has announced plans to retire and a committee of owners has just begun searching for a new candidate. Pro football owners are historically very insular when making changes to their organization, and Granik is considered a long shot because of his outsider status.
Silver became president and chief operating officer of NBA Entertainment in 1997 and has managed virtually all of the league's businesses, including television operations, NBA.com, marketing and merchandising. Gross licensed product sales surpassed $3 billion last season and NBA games are now broadcast in more than 200 countries. Silver also has overseen NBA TV, the league's 24-hour network that launched in Nov. 1999 that is now available in 15 million homes.
In an unrelated move, Retired Players Association executive director Mel Davis is stepping down after a seven-year stint in which he increased the organization's membership and secured an increase in licensing payments for retired players. The exact reason for his departure was not clear, although there had been some dissatisfaction among Davis' constituents over the still-unresolved size of the pension increases they will receive under the new collective bargaining agreement. Davis' replacement is expected to be chosen when the RPA board holds its annual meeting in July.
Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past decade, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.