The NBA is seeing increased player and superstar movement unlike any other time in the league’s past. Between shorter contract lengths and superstars forcing their way out of teams, matters have been shifting constantly.
Anthony Davis was one star who demanded a trade during the season, while Paul George asked the Oklahoma City Thunder for a trade just a year after signing a long-term deal with them in free agency.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has seen the trend and calls it “disheartening.” Silver spoke with the media at his annual July press conference in Las Vegas and talked about these matters. Silver also acknowledged that the league has “work to do” to make sure rules about free agency and tampering are followed.
Silver has said repeatedly tonight that the league “has work to do” to refine free agency rules to ensure NBA offseasons operate under regulations that the league can properly enforce
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 10, 2019
Even though free agency was not scheduled to begin until June 30, deals and moves were clearly agreed to well before then. The problem with the process comes up in situations like what’s happening with Marcus Morris, who reportedly reached a deal with the Spurs but reportedly wants to back out and join the Knicks.
The NBA has more or less accepted that conversations are had well before free agency begins. The free exchange of information between agents, executives, and the media allows teams to set their plans and not be surprise when June 30 rolls around. Although stopping this so the rules are followed sounds great, it seems implausible at this point. The amount of stories that come out even before free agency also helps generate consistent buzz for the league and maintain fan interest at times when it might otherwise disappear.
As far as the trades go, there are a few sides. While the Thunder losing Paul George against their will is no fun, being able to extract the kind of compensation they received makes up for it and could help them become better off in the long run, so trades aren’t necessarily the worst thing. The downside is the creation of a situation where players constantly want to go to more desirable locations, putting teams in smaller markets seemingly at a disadvantage. But that doesn’t outright preclude them from competing; Milwaukee, Utah, Denver and Portland have all put together excellent teams simply by drafting and developing well.
Increased player movement has led to increased fan interest due to the constant stories about where players are going. The balance is making sure fans of the teams losing the star players don’t get discouraged. As long as teams are able to get a lot back in return for losing good players, trades are not the worst thing.