The way the NBA has shortened the length of contracts during collective bargaining agreements in 2005 and again in 2011 has had both advantages and disadvantages for teams. While teams have bad contracts on their books for shorter lengths of time and the reset button can be sped up, players have more opportunities to test free agency.
Adam Silver was asked whether the NBA might overstep its boundaries if they take action to prevent a sense of player movement via trade requests.
"Well, in terms of the role the League should take, I don’t want to do something extraordinary in that I’m reaching to some broad power to interfere with the workings of the collective bargaining agreement," said Silver. "I mean, I think those are issues that should be discussed at the table in terms of how the system should work. I think you raise a fair point in terms of it’s two-sided. Of course, teams also blind-side players, too, and trade them.
"I think the issue ultimately is that, whether it be a team or a player not meeting a contractual obligation, I mean, that’s something I think you just don’t want to see as a league, even if it’s a one-year contract or a five-year contract, that’s a commitment the player makes, and that’s a commitment the organization makes to that player with a guaranteed contract. I recognize, and I think it’s perfectly appropriate, that conversations take place behind closed doors, where players or their agents are saying to management, It’s my intention to move on for whatever reasons.
"I think, when they make a public spectacle of it, I hear you in terms of the enormous media interest that comes from it, but that’s not the kind of media interest we’re looking for.
"I will say, and it’s related to your question, that people have lost sight a little bit of the fact, again, blame the league or not, but two collective bargaining agreements ago in 2010 and ’11, we set out to shorten contracts because we wanted to more closely tie pay to performance, and we wanted to give teams a chance to rebuild faster, meaning players wouldn’t be locked into contractual situations for too long a period, and we also wanted to give players the flexibility to move on. So the result of that is the latest I’ve heard from our basketball operations group is that, I believe, 40 percent of our players are going to be free agents this summer.
"So it’s two sides of the coin. Some people could say, oh, my God, look at all that player movement. On the other hand, that player movement could be very positive for a lot of teams.
"So while we certainly are becoming a 52-week-a-year sport, and it’s largely the result of tremendous interest in these players, and not just what happens on the floor, but how they choose to live their lives. I think we could do more a better job as a league in avoiding those situations where they get to the point where players are maybe demanding they’re be traded or, worst-case scenario, saying, “I’m not going to honor my contract.”