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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says superstars forcing trades is ‘not good for the league’

Jason Burgos
adam silver, nba
Jan 5, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses the crowd after the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver believes that players frequently switching teams in free agency is good for the league, but the superstars that push to leave franchises via trade? Not so much.

Free agency has revolutionized the NBA and most team sports. Players are allowed to test the open market and offer their services to the highest bidder. Although some purists have complained such a system can hurt small-market teams, innovations in recent collective bargaining agreements have given franchises in those places more leverage in keeping their stars.

Even though this constant movement can erode fan loyalty and make players out to be athlete mercenaries, the NBA’s warden believes that free agency, adjusted guidelines, and shorter contracts have been a boon for the league. In a Wednesday interview on ESPN’s “Get Up,” he explained that the trend of shorter contracts has real benefits for players and teams, and essentially improves the league as a whole.

Adam Silver says an active free-agent market is good for the NBA

“Now what we’re seeing in the league, first of all, shorter contracts,” said Silver [h/t Real GM]. “Which I don’t think is a bad idea because one of the things we tried to do with our players’ association back beginning around 10 years ago was tie performance to pay in a closer way. And I think that’s what we’ve seen with shorter contracts.

“The data shows that superstars moving isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it allows bad situations to [resolve] in an orderly way, to change,” he added. “It gives teams that may not be in a competitive position hope that they can sign one of those players. “

However, while Silver is a big proponent of the current state of free agency, that doesn’t mean he is in favor of all types of player movement. Especially, when superstars force franchises to trade them out of a situation they are unhappy with.

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Silver says superstars forcing trades hurts the league

adam silver, nba
Oct 22, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; A fan wears a missing Ben Simmons t-shirt before a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Like what happened during last week’s NBA trade deadline when disgruntled all-stars James Harden and Ben Simmons forced the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers to swap the pair in the hopes of ending months of drama between them and those franchises.

“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,” Silver said. “The data is clear on that, that’s not good for the league.”

Simmons has sat out the entire season and asked to be traded from displeasure with how the team publicly handled his disappointing playoff run in 2021.

Harden was traded to the Nets at the trade deadline a year ago. The three-headed monster of him, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving seemed like an offensive match made in heaven. That was until Irving decided to not follow New York City vaccination mandates and sat out all of the team’s home games this season. Leading to lockerroom friction between the three superstar scorers.