Steve Kerr is not an old-school, hard-line, the rules are the rules kind of guy. As a former player, he tends to back players freedom of movement, and his coaching style is that of an informed player who was not of fan of grinding practices in the middle of an 82-game marathon.
But even he wonders if elite players forcing teams to trade them has gone too far.
“I’m talking more about the Anthony Davis situation,” Kerr said on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “Where a guy is perfectly healthy and has a couple years left on his deal and says, ‘I want to leave.’ That’s a real problem that the league has to address and that the players have to be careful with.
“When you sign on that dotted line, you owe your effort and your play to that team, to that city, to the fans. And then (once the contract runs out) it’s completely your right to leave as a free agent. But if you sign the contract, then you should be bound to that contract.
“If you come to an agreement with the team that, hey, it’s probably best for us to part ways, that’s one thing. But the Davis stuff was really kind of groundbreaking — and hopefully not a trend, because it’s bad for the league.”
Paul George did the same thing in Oklahoma City (although the Thunder had quietly looked at splitting up Westbrook and George at the draft after another first-round playoff loss).
If one were cynical, one would note that Davis and George moved into the same division as Kerr’s Warriors, making Golden State’s path back to the Finals that much tougher.
Kerr’s concern, however, felt more 30,000-foot view than cynical. He had no issue with Kevin Durant‘s move to Brooklyn (although he would have preferred KD stay), it is about the trend.
“As a former player, I would always sort of lean toward player empowerment, guys who have earned their right to free agency,” Kerr said. “If they want to make a move for their own careers, I’m all for it. They’ve earned that right.
“My only issue is when a player who is under contract decides not to honor the contract. That’s a problem. That’s something that can really affect the league.”
A lot of owners had that concern, too. The league is investigating tampering and considering changes to its free agency rules, looking to put stuff in place that fits the modern age and is enforceable. However, outside of a team saying no to a trade demand — and risking a Jimmy Butler in Minnesota problem — it will not be easy to get star players from using their power to force trades at times.