Granik will remain the league's main representative to USA Basketball and board chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
"Everyone in the NBA family is well aware of the enormity of his contributions to the success and growth of the league," Stern said yesterday at the annual NBA Board of Governors meeting. "For over two decades, Russ has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the league."
Stern lauded Granik for his role as the NBA's chief negotiator for the last four collective bargaining agreements. Granik was involved in network television contracts and helped oversee expansion from 22 to 30 teams. He was instrumental in NBA players competing in the Olympics.
Stern said Granik, 57, wanted to make the move earlier but was persuaded to stay one more season.
"I felt the time was right for me to get off the treadmill for a while," Granik said. "I greatly appreciate all the opportunities David and the NBA owners have afforded me for personal accomplishment in this job."
Granik joined the NBA in 1976 as a staff attorney and became general counsel in 1980. In 1990, Granik was elected deputy commissioner.
Nuggets -- The suspension of coach George Karl for making improper contact with a prospect was reduced to two games. The NBA originally had suspended Karl for the first three games of the season. The Nuggets were fined $200,000 by the NBA, which said the violation occurred from May 16-18 when Karl attended workouts at Marquette University involving a player not eligible for the draft. The NBA did not identify the player. Karl will miss the season opener at San Antonio on Tuesday and the home opener against the Lakers the next night.
Timberwolves -- Forward Kevin Garnett didn't suffer structural damage to his sprained left ankle, X-rays showed. Garnett sprained his ankle in practice on Monday when he landed on Mark Madsen's foot. Garnett sat out the team's intrasquad scrimmage on Monday night and did not attend practice yesterday. "He's day-to-day," coach Dwane Casey said. "It's just a sprained ankle. Nothing major."
76ers -- Allen Iverson missed his third game - an 80-71 preseason loss at home to the Knicks - with a sore right knee and remained listed as day-to-day. He missed practice the past two days, and coach Maurice Cheeks hoped his point guard could return for the exhibition finale so Philadelphia could have its starting five play together for the first time this year.
Pacers -- Guard A.J. Ratliff had surgery on his injured right thumb and will be out indefinitely. Ratliff was injured during practice on Monday, coach Mike Davis said yesterday in a statement. The second-year player was expected to be a key contributor this season after starting 14 games in 2004-05. "A.J. was one of the most improved players during the offseason, and we will miss him," Davis said.
Survey -- The Spurs are overwhelming favorites to repeat as NBA champions, according to a survey of the league's general managers. The Spurs received 77 percent of the vote among the GMs who responded. Results were posted yesterday on NBA.com.