NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said, as much buzz as star trade demands create, “That’s not the kind of media interest we’re looking for.”
Because he knows, once the rush wears off, fans are left less connected to their teams.
In the aftermath of Ben Simmons pushing for a trade from the 76ers and James Harden pushing for a trade from the Nets then getting dealt for each other, Silver addressed star movement with the authority of someone who has seen the research.
Silver, via ESPN:
The data shows that superstars moving isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it allows bad situations to – in an orderly way – to change. It gives teams that may not be in a competitive position hope that they can sign one of those players. But shorter contracts, to me, is something very different, and free agents moving at the end of contracts is different, than what we just saw where you have players actively seeking to move while they’re under contract. That I think, the data is clear on that. That’s not good for the league.
Owners pushed for shorter contracts because long deals too often became albatrosses. An unintended consequence: Player movement, star and otherwise, has increased. Super teams can pop up in any destination market (or Cleveland). LeBron James and Kevin Durant famously used 1+1 contracts to move from one contender to another to another.
But if a contracted player wants to be traded and hasn’t been, that’s not a great situation, either. As Draymond Green said about these predicaments, “It’s hard to go in night in and night out and produce at the level we’re expected to produce at if your heart’s not in it.”
It’s worth remembering: Silver initially disliked LeBron’s and Durant’s player-driven short contracts, too. Pushing against that trend might have contributed to current problems. Unintended consequences abound.
The NBA ought to keep that in mind while weighing potential solutions.