Adam Silver Talks Free Agency, Trade Requests, More

After a frenzied “pre-agency” period this summer which saw a number of high-profile free agents reportedly reach contract agreements with teams even before free agency officially opened on the evening of June 30, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters on Tuesday night that the NBA has some “work to do” on the rules surrounding free agency and tampering.

“It’s still the same principles of fair balance of power and a sense that it’s a level playing field,” Silver said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I think that’s what teams want to know. I think they’re put in difficult situations because when they’re sitting across from a player and – whether it’s conversations that are happening earlier than they should or frankly things are being discussed that don’t fall squarely within the Collective Bargaining Agreement – it puts teams in a very difficult position because they are reading or hearing that other teams are doing other things to compete.”

As Bontemps details, Silver acknowledged that the NBA’s current tampering rules can be difficult to enforce, and that the league should be focused on establishing rules that can be enforced — otherwise, there’s little point in having them in place.

“I think the sense in the room was we should revisit those rules, think about what does make sense for our teams so that ultimately we can create a level playing field among the teams and that the partner teams have confidence that their competitors are adhering to the same set of rules they are,” Silver said.

Silver weighed in on several other topics during his Las Vegas press conference on Tuesday, so we’ll round up a few of the highlights, via Bontemps, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, and Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

On star players asking to be traded:

“It concerns all of us. I mean, it falls in the same category of issues of the so-called rule of law within a sports league. You have a contract and it needs to be meaningful on both sides. On one hand, there’s an expectation if you have a contract and it’s guaranteed that the team is going to meet the terms of the contract, and the expectation on the other side is the player is going to meet the terms of the contract.

“I will say, without getting into any specific circumstances, trade demands are disheartening. They’re disheartening to the team. They’re disheartening to the community and don’t serve the player well. The players care about their reputations just as much. And so that’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

On many of 2019’s very best free agents choosing to go to big markets (Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers; Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Nets):

“I think you have unique circumstances with those players and those teams. But I think it speaks to the fact that the significance of these brands, the fact that the Nets and Clippers have put themselves in position over the last few years to be attractive to top free agents. So I think at the end of the day, it’s positive for the league.

“… I’m mindful of this notion of balance of power, and I think it applies in many different ways. An appropriate balance of power between the teams and the players, an appropriate balance of power I’d say among all our 30 teams, big markets, small markets, some markets that are perceived as being more attractive than others, tax issues, climate issues. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete.”

On draft-night trades that aren’t yet official, resulting in draftees wearing the wrong team’s hat and – in some cases – not being on the right team by the start of Summer League:

“We’ve got to fix that. We talk about being fan-friendly, and that isn’t fan-friendly.”

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