Player empowerment has created a different NBA than the one your uncle or even older sibling grew up experiencing. Like everything, there are positive and negative elements to adjust to as the ecosystem continues to take shape. Kevin Durant, perpetually at the center of rumors and innuendo, reportedly recently requested a trade away from the Brooklyn Nets — as soon as Kyrie Irving signed on the dotted line. Wonder if those two events are related.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver offered his thoughts on the situation yesterday and, unsurprisingly, came with the exact viewpoint one would expect from someone paid to speak for the owners.
“I don’t know whether he requested a trade or demanded one, frankly, he said. “This needs to be a two-way street. Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players, and the expectation in return is that they’ll meet their end of the bargain.
“I’m realistic that there’s always conversations going on behind closed doors between players and their representatives and the teams. But we don’t like to see players requesting trades, and we don’t like to see it playing out the way it is.”
Let’s concede some points before making our own. First, it’s not the best fan experience for a superstar to come to town to immediately solve a leveraged future, then complain and burn bridges at every turn, leaving wreckage for ownership to clean up. Second, of course owners don’t like being told what to do as it’s tough to become an NBA owner while doing someone else’s bidding. Third, it’s tough to attract new fans in markets perpetually either ignored or spurned by the game’s biggest stars.
But the question deserves to be posed. How much does the added drama and explosion of the industrial content complex around these storylines offset the negatives? The NBA has never been more popular and that popularity is experienced as much, if not more, on offdays than it is gamedays. Trade scuttlebutt and mercurial cults of personality drive conversation and provide endless opportunity for league exposure.
Nationally and neutrally, it seems like a good thing. The same cannot be said for the impacted regional markets. So, as stated, it’s a mixed bag. And it makes perfect sense why Silver said what he said.
Durant requesting a trade is not, in sum, a total loss. Even for the Nets because no one should be surprised if the superstar suits up in a Brooklyn uniform this season and runs it back one more time with Kyrie Irving. Even a dark cloud has a silver lining and as far as problems go, this seems at worst palatable for what is being gained.