FOX Sports NBA reporter
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving defended filing trade requests during their All-Star weekend to practice media availability on Saturday, with Durant going so far as to call it “great for the league.”
A few hours later, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who has repeatedly stubbornly denounced players making trade demands, was asked for his opinion on Durant’s comment.
“Now where I fall when it comes to player movement, I generally think that’s a positive,” Silver said. “In fact, we designed this current collective agreement with shorter contracts, for example the way free agency works, to allow for that.
“… It’s very different from a so-called trade demand. I think the players’ union has agreed with us in our current collective bargaining agreement that there are rules against public trade demands. I’ve said so many times before. I think that is a bad thing I think it’s corrosive to the system.
Days before the trade deadline, Irving — quickly followed by Durant — both requested to be traded by the Brooklyn Nets. Irving, who earned $38.9 million in his final year of contract, ended up with the Dallas Mavericks. Durant, who originally asked to be traded in the summer and was on a four-year, $198 million deal, was traded to the Phoenix Suns.
When asked if trade demands were bad for the league, Durant took the opposite position from Silver.
“I don’t think it’s bad for the league,” Durant said. “It brings more eyes to the league, more people are more excited. The tweets I got and the news hits we got from me that traded, Kyrie traded just bring more exposure to the league and that’s really what makes your money when you get more attention. So I think it’s great for the league to be honest.
Irving added that players should be able to do what is best for them.
“What is a bad situation and why is no one allowed to ask for trades?” asked Irving. “That’s my question, when has it become awful to make great business decisions for yourself and your happiness and peace of mind. Not every employer you’re going to get along with, so if you get a chance to go somewhere else and you’re doing it legally, I don’t think there’s a problem with that.”
This is a critical time for the NBA and NBPA, which have mutually agreed to extend the deadline for exiting the current collective bargaining agreement to March 31. During the All-Star weekend, TNT analyst Charles Barkley told reporters he believes the problem of players making trade requests could lead to a collapse in negotiations.
“You can’t take my money and say you want to divorce me in six months to a year because you can only get the most out of this team,” Barkley told reporters Thursday. “You can’t take all my money and then say, ‘Hey, I want a divorce.’ So I’m pretty sure that’s the next thing that’s going to come out of the CBA. I have no doubt these guys will be locked out.”
However, Silver said he was not concerned about this particular issue.
“No, because, as I said, we’ve already agreed with the Players Association that public trade demands are unreasonable,” Silver said. “It currently exists as prejudicial behavior in our CBA and that has not been an area of discussion between us and the Players Association.”
(Where things get grim, of course, is that players rarely make public trade requests. What usually happens is that their trade requests leak, which inevitably puts the same pressure on an organization.)
Silver also spoke about another hot topic in the NBA: load management.
When asked if there had been talks with the NBPA to play 82 games over an extended period such as B. the 170-day format, or reducing the number of games played, he said he would “never say never”. Those ideas are off the table, but added there is no data to support injuries would be reduced.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily going to go about it in an adversarial way with the Player’s Association,” said Silver. “We’re working alongside our doctors, our data scientists, trying to figure out if there’s an optimal way for players to perform. If that means that at some point we come to the conclusion that we’re better off extending the schedule to include the number of defenders for example, that’s something worth looking into. If we thought it made sense to reduce the number of games, we would do it.”
As for Durant, he made it very clear where he stands on this issue. When asked if he would like to reduce the number of games played in a season, he didn’t hesitate in his answer.
“No,” he said.
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