NBA commissioner Adam Silver answers questions at a news conference...

NBA commissioner Adam Silver answers questions at a news conference after a deal was announced between the league and TV networks in New York on Oct. 6, 2014. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, an advocate of the legalization of sports gambling, said Thursday that he often sees fans sitting around him in the stands wagering on the game with their smartphones during the course of play.

"[Sports] is a marketplace, and what the marketplace is telling us is that fans want to engage in wagering," Silver said Thursday during a meeting with a group of Associated Press Sports Editors.

At the start of this season, his first full season as NBA commissioner, Silver launched a public discussion on the issue when he wrote a newspaper editorial advocating that sports betting be "brought out of the underground and into the sunlight, where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated."

He said Thursday that the reaction from other sports commissioners has ranged from "openness and curiosity to opposition."

Silver said about $400 billion a year is illegally bet on sports. "If they're going to do it, we should join with it," he said. "Government should tax it and set rules and then we should do our best to monitor it and respond."

On another topic, Silver said he has talked with the NCAA about changes in eligibility and added that down the road, he could consider holding some sort of draft combine in which student-athletes could test the waters and get feedback from general managers about whether it would be in their best interest to make themselves eligible for the draft.

Such a move, of course, would need to be approved by the National Basketball Players Association, but it is something the league finds intriguing.

"I think we have the same interest in developing the best players," Silver said.

Finally, speaking about the San Antonio Spurs sending the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan to the foul line 17 times in a playoff game, Silver said he is "on the fence" about intentional fouling away from the ball. He said he expects the league to be "very engaged" in talking about the tactic during the next couple of months.

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