LOS ANGELES (AFP) – NBA free agency rules need to be revised after a wild week of deals saw superstar talent shifts and player trade demands, League Commissioner Adam Silver said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Las Vegas after team owners meetings at the NBA Summer League, Silver said clear talks had been underway about major moves long before the NBA opened its official negotiating period.
News of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving going to Brooklyn broke minutes into the start of free agency on June 30, leading Silver and many others to conclude the NBA can’t enforce its own free agency regulations.
“Obviously, if deals are being announced immediately after the discussion period begins, there had been prior discussions,” Silver said.
“To a certain extent, we always knew that there was some leakage, some slippage around those deadlines, and I think there was a certain amount that historically had been acceptable in the league.
“The consensus at both our committee meetings and the board meeting was that we need to revisit and reset those rules. It’s pointless at the end of the day to have rules that we can’t enforce.
“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.”
If some teams wait to open talks when NBA rules allow, they might find their desired talent already agreed to deals with another club.
“The marching orders to the league, together with our labour relations committee, is that we should spend the next several months thinking about both what is in our unilateral power to change and then potentially what it is we should be discussing with the players when we sit down for bargaining,” Silver said.
Silver said the NBA need not wait for final salary cap figures if they made adjustments later.
He saw positives in Brooklyn’s moves plus Kawhi Leonard and Paul George going to the Los Angeles Clippers – George after asking for a trade from Oklahoma City. But big markets showed an edge over small ones.
“You want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete. My sense was, especially when it comes to free agency and the rules around it, that we’ve got work to do.”
In some ways, star players command more power in the talent shift equation than teams.
“I don’t necessarily see it as player versus owner,” Silver said. “To the extent the balance of power is out of whack a little bit, we should address it.”