Adam Silver: NBA to address 'pointless' tampering rules, 'disheartening' trade demands

Jason Owens

Tampering and trade demands were two of the hottest topics during one of the wildest periods of player movement in NBA history.

Commissioner Adam Silver has plans to address both.

On the heels of a frantic free-agent period, Silver told reporters Tuesday to expect changes on both fronts while speaking from the league's Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas.

Tampering is standard operating procedure

The league’s ability to manage tampering was put to the test last week when several of the NBA’s top players changed teams via free agency.

It failed.

Multiple free agents had agreed to deals with new teams in the minutes and hours after the official free agency period started at 6 p.m. ET on June 30. Kevin Durant’s deal with the Brooklyn Nets was reported more than an hour before free agency.

News of Kemba Walker’s deal with the Boston Celtics broke the day before.

With teams forbidden to contact pending free agents prior to the start of the free agency period, it became clear that tampering rules were being blatantly bypassed in the name of remaining competitive on the free-agent market.

Silver: ‘Pointless’ to have rules NBA can’t enforce

Silver didn’t pretend that tampering wasn’t standard business practice, acknowledging that “there have been prior discussions” between free agents and teams. He said the league would re-evaluate tampering rules and change or even eliminate some.

"I think the consensus at both our committee meetings and the board meeting was that we need to revisit and reset those rules, that some of the rules we have in place may not make sense," Silver said. "I think that's what we discussed. I think it's pointless at the end of the day to have rules that we can't enforce. I think it hurts the perception of integrity around the league if people say, 'Well, you have that rule and it's obvious that teams aren't fully complying, so why do you have it?'

Fixing tampering is easy. Addressing trade demands will prove a difficult task for Adam Silver. (Reuters)
Fixing tampering is easy. Addressing trade demands will prove a difficult task for Adam Silver. (Reuters)

While free agency made multiple headlines, it wasn’t the only source of blockbuster player movement. The New Orleans Pelicans traded Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Big movement via trade demand

Both deals were reportedly made under trade demands from the players involved and had dramatic implications for the teams that parted with superstars.

The Pelicans got lucky and found Zion Williamson in the NBA draft lottery, giving the team and fans a brand new hope.

But George’s reported demand out of Oklahoma City has left a Thunder franchise built to contend for more than a decade reeling and in fire-sale mode.

Difficult issue to address

Silver said Tuesday that “trade demands are disheartening” and that the league needs to address them.

How that will look is a mystery. Fixing tampering is simple. Just change the rules that outlaw some of the necessities of the business.

Trying to nix the desires of star players as they wield their power is another challenge all together and one the NBA will need to tread lightly in addressing.

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