When Anthony Davis told the Pelicans a few weeks ago that he would like to be traded, a lot of the blame went to the Pelicans. Most people agreed that it was time that he moved on after his long stint of loyalty, and that, because the Pelicans did not have a very good team around him, this call for a trade was wholly justified. In my opinion, though, these trade requests from NBA superstars are completely unfair to the teams that must trade him, especially when they submit a certain list of teams they’d be willing to go to, and that these moves are beginning a bad trend for the future of the NBA.
First of all, these players are under contract. Most of the players who request trades have signed contracts to play on that team for a certain amount of years, and so the fact that they can void that contract by requesting to play for another team is completely unfair. For example, take the case of Anthony Davis. Davis signed a five-year, $145 million extension during the 2014-2015 season. This meant that he would stay in New Orleans until the end of the 2019-2020 season, and that, after that season, he could choose to either stay in New Orleans or leave in free agency. The fact is, though, that Davis did not sign a three-and-a-half-year extension with the Pelicans. If he knew that he was going to want to leave, he should have signed a shorter contract and left when the years on his deal was up, but instead, the Pelicans now have a superstar player making tons of money who barely wants to be on the court to help them win.
There is also the idea that these players not only request for a trade but do it publicly using the media. When it becomes public knowledge that a player requests a trade, the asking price for that player goes way down. A team trying to trade for him will know that the player wants to leave, and therefore they can give less in return knowing that the other team must find a trade partner. This problem becomes especially significant when the player releases a limited list of teams that they would be willing to play for. The team trying to trade this player is in a really tough position knowing that they only have a set number of teams they can reasonably trade with, and that will almost certainly get them a worse deal in return. The team who signed him to a contract and is paying him a lot of money is punished unilaterally just because a player wants to leave, and that is not fair at all.
There are certainly counterarguments to this issue. In the case of Anthony Davis, one could argue that the Pelicans should have surrounded him with a better team and that therefore, Davis had a right to leave. But if this was the case, Davis should have asked the front office to surround him with more talent instead of asking to go to a team where the talent is already there. Lots of people found problems with how Lebron James and Kevin Durant left their teams, but at least they did it through free agency where it was their decision to make. Could you imagine the outrage if Lebron or KD had requested a trade to the teams that they are on now? Lebron had little to no talent on his Cleveland team last year, and the Thunder were not contending for championships even though they were still a pretty good team. But at least they played out their contract and did not burden their team with a trade request, unlike players like Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving.
This amount of power with the players is a real problem that must be addressed in the new CBA. Changes must be made, and it is simply not fair to these teams that they have no say in anything that happens in these trade requests. Public trade requests should be punished even more heavily than they are now, allowing the teams to have at least a little more say in what goes on. These trade requests, which also almost always lead to more super teams as well, are diminishing the entertainment of the NBA, and so a solution must be found.