In one of the biggest—and most public—trades in recent memory, the commissioner told Goodwill he would have wanted the blockbuster deal to happen more privately.
“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.”
Simmons actively spoke out against the 76ers since August, demanding a trade and not playing a minute for Philadelphia this season. Similarly, Harden sought advice from agents and executives outside the Nets organization, information that made its way back to Brooklyn. He also used passive-aggressive tactics before expressing his interest in being traded ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline.
And it wasn‘t just the two players—76ers president Daryl Morey was active throughout the process. He continuously said he would not trade the three-time All-Star for anything less than a star who would compliment Joel Embiid.
“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," Silver said, per Yahoo Sports. “But this is not the way I would have liked to see it happen.”
In his introductory press conference, Harden emphasized that the 76ers were his first choice of a landing spot in a trade. When asked what his two trades in the span of two years means for player empowerment, Harden said players now have a lot of power to control their environments.
“We can control our own destiny,” Harden said. “I needed to be around guys I know want to win and know that are willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
In Simmons’s press conference, the point guard said he was excited to get back on the court.
“It was a bunch of things I was dealing with as a person, in my personal life that I don’t really want to get into depth with," Simmons said. “But, I’m here now, it’s a blessing to be in an organization like this. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the floor and building something great here.”
Known for being vocal about player autonomy, Silver empathized with both players’ unique situations.
“I did watch a little bit of James and Ben’s press conferences earlier today,” Silver said. “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.“
The trade between Philadelphia and Brooklyn included Harden and forward Paul Millsap joining the 76ers, sending Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks to the Nets.
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