Has NBA player empowerment gone too far? – University

On June 30, Kevin Durant sent shockwaves throughout the NBA when he requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. It was shocking – another star basketball player was asking for a trade.

Trade demands are not a new phenomenon in the NBA. In 1975, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar forced a trade from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers. Older Toronto Raptors fans will remember the drama that surrounded Vince Carter’s departure in 2004.

Despite this empowerment, there have always been limits to the power players have had. When players sign a contract, they are expected to stick with it. This new era of player empowerment arguably began in 2010 when basketball players Lebron James and Chris Bosh both entered free agency and decided to join Dwyane Wade in Miami.

All three players had been top-five picks in the 2003 draft, had represented America at the 2006 FIBA ​​World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and had all signed rookie extensions that brought them into free agency in the 2010 offseason. The team was no coincidence. The players used their free agency power to secure deals that were favorable to them and would allow them to team up in 2010.

Since 2010, commercial requests have become much more common. Anthony Davis, Paul George and Jimmy Butler are a few players who have requested trades in recent years. Raptors fans will never forget how Kawhi Leonard worked his way out of the San Antonio Spurs in 2019.

The most notable recent trade request occurred last offseason with Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons sat out of training camp, refused to speak to coaches or teammates, and racked up fines as he demanded a trade. The Brooklyn Nets eventually traded Simmons at the trade deadline for an equally disgruntled James Harden – who had just forced a trade to Brooklyn a year prior.

And now Kevin Durant is asking for a trade, just one season away from signing a four-year contract extension. The mentality of sticking to contracts is changing.

As an athlete, this change is undoubtedly encouraging. Damian Lillard may tell you about the importance of loyalty, but most athletes want one thing: to win. Sometimes teams don’t work well, but with more powerful players, those teams can work their way into the winner’s circle.

As a fan, keeping tabs on the trade market is exciting as trade requests provide entertainment and drama. It’s fun to watch and speculate where Simmons or Durant would be traded. Player empowerment thus provides an avenue through which fans could easily engage with each other during the offseason.

However, while some, like me, may be excited about Kevin Durant asking for a trade, Nets fans were likely devastated. What if Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam or Fred VanVleet asked for a trade? I imagine I would be devastated, like how older Raptors fans felt and still feel towards Vince Carter. Being a fan isn’t as nice when you’re constantly worrying about whether your star player can ask for a trade.

For smaller franchises, like the Indiana Pacers or the Utah Jazz, player empowerment can also be a threat. After all, what player will play in Indiana when he can play in Los Angeles? The NBA’s best players won’t be as scattered between teams if players can ignore their contract and demand a trade on a whim.

So overall player empowerment isn’t good – and it looks like the league realizes it needs to act. Asked about Durant’s trade request, NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained, “We don’t like to see players asking for trades, and we don’t like it going that way.”

After Silver said the topic of empowerment and its limits will be discussed, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association will have a collective bargaining agreement that can be reviewed after the 2022-23 season. However, Durant’s request for a trade that was canceled on Aug. 24 could hint that the limitations have already been set.

If the Simmons-Harden drama was the pinnacle of the era of player empowerment, then Durant’s failed business claim and Silver’s clear convictions on the matter are the beginning of its decline.

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