NBA Free Agency 2019 was a classic one. We saw all-star players like Kawaii Leonard, Kemba Walker, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving switch teams. All signing multi-year contracts to demonstrate their loyalty. Ironically signing a long term deal does not truly represent their loyalty. As seen by other prominent stars during the offseason who forced their way off their team. Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Russel Westbrook all demanded trades: granted by their teams. These NBA All-stars were locked into long term contracts unhappy with their situation. In an increasingly friendly sports culture, loyalty is starting to disappear overshadowed by a desire to win.
It’s not just the NBA; Major League Baseball has a similar plight. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout both signed deals for more than 10 years. Their contracts also use a majority of the Team Owners money. While baseball does not have a salary cap, money is not infinite. As a result, these teams don’t have the ability to sign a plethora of stars. Players then demand a trade to get out of a terrible situation.
Players are threatened, relationships are damaged, and team success is destroyed all in the hopes of finding an organization that wants to win: the main intention of the players.
Teams prepare large sums of money to lure players in. When the situation becomes dire, stars want out. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is sick of this culture. In February 2018, during the annual league press conference Silver said: “Whether it be a team or a player not meeting a contractual obligation that’s something you just don’t want to see as a league.” It appears players want everything: maximum money with meager accountability.
There is no simple solution to the problem, players hold all the leverage. If teams refuse to trade, players hold out not willing to play. This year in the NBA Anthony Davis sat out for the final month of the season. Similarily in the NFL defensive stars: Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas refused to participate in team activities.
While players constantly changing teams creates interest, it endangers their fans and loyalty. This year in the NBA a majority of stars are on the west due to trades. As NBA fans worry about league parody teams need to find a way to control their players and make them serve their contract.