Adam Silver promises to bring the hammer down on Raptors' embattled player

Adam Silver
Adam Silver / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Toronto Raptors big man Jontay Porter was having perhaps the best stretch of games in his young career, one filled with injuries and unrealized potential, when he suddenly disappeared. Then the news came out: the 24-year old center was being investigated by the NBA for suspicious activity regarding two different games.

In each game Porter left early, and in both games pregame betting on prop bets related to Porter's "unders" spiked to wild numbers -- essentially, way more people than usually would bet on a deep rotation player like Porter placed money prior to both games that he would play but post low statistical totals, and then Porter played but checked himself out of those games quickly, ensuring the "under" hit and those bets paid out large amounts.

We covered the situation in greater depth last week, and came away with the following conclusion: all of the available information points to Jontay Porter being found guilty of these accusations, and if so, he will almost certainly be banned from the NBA for life.

It appears that NBA commissioner Adam Silver agrees.

Adam Silver threatens to ban Jontay Porter for life

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been known as a "player's commissioner" because of his largely positive relationship with the players and the NBA Player's Union, and a lockout has never been seen as a serious possibility under his tenure. He has also stood out in contrast to his predecessor, the late David Stern, in not laying down draconian punishments when a lighter sentence can get players back on the court sooner.

There are exceptions, however, when Silver feels he needs to ratchet up the discipline. Draymond Green continued to flout league standards of conduct and was frequently screaming at referees and flailing his limbs into all manner of opponents, so eventually Silver and the NBA's leadership team levied an indefinite suspension. He similarly came down hard on Ja Morant for doing exactly what Silver told him not to do.

What Silver has not had to do is deal with a public scandal related to the league's embracing of gambling. The league stands to make a significant amount of money by partnering with online wagering companies and sportsbooks, but it also puts added pressure on an entertainment product that is essentially a game to ensure its competitive integrity is not compromised. If it is, the entire house of cards falls apart, and with it billions of dollars in profit.

That brings us to Jontay Porter. Nothing has been released about the findings of the league's investigation; they may or may not have actually concluded their investigation, but Porter is not playing on a team that is not playing in the postseason, so the NBA is comfortable waiting to drop the news on a day when something else will dominate the headlines. The day of the Los Angeles Lakers playing in the Play-In Tournament seems like a strong option.

The reason the league will want to drop the news as quietly as possible is because it's not going to be good. Given the facts that have been released, simple logic suggests there's no obvious way out of this for Porter.

Adam Silver was asked Wednesday about the investigation, and he made it clear that what Porter was accused of was a "cardinal sin" in the NBA, and that the consequences could be "very severe" to the point of a "ban...from the game." Here is the full quote:

"I have an enormous range of discipline available to me. It's a cardinal sin, what he's accused of, in the NBA. The ultimate extreme option I have is to ban him from the game. That's the level of authority I have here because there's nothing more serious when it comes to gambling and betting on our games. That's a direct player involvement. The investigation is ongoing, but the consequences could be very severe."

Adam Silver

Adam Silver is not going to let his tenure be defined by a widespread gambling controversy. He is going to nip this incident in the bud, and that means bringing the hammer down on Jontay Porter. Barring a clear and obvious exoneration, the punishment hanging over Porter seems likely to come down in force.

Porter had not made much money in his career, but was just starting to establish himself as a player who could earn a long-term spot in the league. He tried to make some extra money on top of his salary, and in the process is likely to cost himself all of the income.

Jontay Porter appears to be on track to feel the full extent of Adam Silver's wrath.

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