Adam Silver says he wishes James Harden, Ben Simmons trade was handled differently

James Harden and Ben Simmons put on their best faces for the public following messy exits in their trade deadline swap.

One person who watched with great interest was NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who’s prepping for All-Star weekend in Cleveland.

In a conversation with Yahoo Sports, Silver noted this has been part of the NBA’s fabric for some time, and not just this generation of players.

“Players forcing their way out of situations is not new in this league. It’s important to have that context,” Silver told Yahoo Sports. “I’d love to find a way where to the extent there’s player movement, it didn’t happen in that fashion.”

Harden was accused of faking a hamstring injury his final weeks in Brooklyn, while Simmons has been inactive all season following a trade demand from Philadelphia. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was pretty vocal through the process, going as far as negotiating openly through media — an unorthodox method, to say the least.

“I accept that there will always be conversations behind closed doors, when teams are unhappy, or players are unhappy, [but] the last thing you want to see is for these issues to play out publicly,” Silver said. “One of the things that I continue to do in my role is to think about ways we can improve the system.”

James Harden will play for his third team in two years after forcing his way out of Brooklyn to Philadelphia. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
James Harden will play for his third team in two years after forcing his way out of Brooklyn to Philadelphia. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Silver has long embraced the player empowerment era, so he seems to understand this is a byproduct of a handful of players leveraging their talents into movement. The tactics can be viewed as distasteful, but the results usually bear out in favor of players getting the changes that they want.

Harden will play for his third team in two years when he makes his debut. He forced a trade to Brooklyn from Houston last season, then barely stayed there a year before choosing Philadelphia as his next destination.

Simmons took a hard line with the 76ers following their Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals last summer, refusing to report to training camp initially in the aftermath of his trade request.

Then after showing up, was kicked out of practice by head coach Doc Rivers when he refused to participate in a drill. He was getting fined since the start of the season.

His mental health has come into focus, and he said he’s in a better place following the trade to Brooklyn.

“I did watch a little bit of James and Ben’s press conferences earlier today,” Silver told Yahoo Sports. “And you’re reminded that when you see them sitting up there, on those podiums doing these interviews, these are human beings, who, in both cases, have gone through very stressful situations.

“You want people to feel, at the end of the day, they have outlets for their stress, that they can be productive within their work setting. But I’m not surprised that we’ve seen some heightened flare up of some issues, you know, that might have otherwise been handled behind closed doors.

“But this is not the way I would have liked to see it happen.”