Steve Kerr has filled several roles in and around NBA organizations, having spent the last 31 years as a player, general manager, commentator and currently as head coach of the Warriors. As such, he's quite experienced with the power struggles within NBA front offices and quite familiar with the league's history.
On the most recent episode of The Warriors Insider Podcast, Kerr reflected on that history and told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole that he isn't a big fan of what he sees as a bad developing trend, exemplified by the trade demands that ultimately got Anthony Davis to Los Angeles.
"Where a guy is perfectly healthy and has a couple years left on his deal and says, ‘I want to leave,’" Kerr explained, "that’s a real problem that the league has to address and that the players have to be careful with.
"If you come to an agreement with the team that, hey, it’s probably best for us to part ways, that’s one thing. But the Davis stuff was really kind of groundbreaking -- and hopefully not a trend, because it’s bad for the league."
Davis' new teammate with the Lakers and longtime NBA veteran Jared Dudley was recently asked about Kerr's comments, and he didn't hold back from disagreeing with his former GM.
"You know what, I am a huge Steve Kerr fan," Dudley told The Athletic's Ethan Sherwood Strauss. "Obviously, he traded for me. I was in Phoenix with the same agent (Mark Bartelstein). That’s the only time I think I’ve disagreed with him. Because, why can’t a player ask out of his contract if what you sold him on changed? Happens all the time. Hey, we want to win, but now we’re going to rebuild. Vice-versa where a guy gets traded after a year when there are three years left on his contract. And so why can a team be able to trade but a player can’t ask for a trade?
"Now, the only difference of this is the perception," Dudley continued. "Paul George asks for a trade, but no one knows about it. But Anthony Davis comes out and because it’s public, now he’s getting killed, just because it’s public. So you know, the way for players to do it is in private, but obviously, he thought he couldn’t get out of there if he did it privately. And so people ask for trades all the time, all the time.
"And so I just don’t understand Steve’s stance on that because, if you run your organization well enough, Anthony Davis was in New Orleans, he didn’t make it past the second round in eight, nine years. Like, what do you want him to do?"
There's a lot to break down there, and Dudley brings up several relevant points. As Strauss writes, "In an age when players fear the repercussions of honesty, Dudley’s answers are often equal parts well considered and candid." For instance, it's awfully tough to argue with the hypocrisy that Dudley suggests, that it's more acceptable for teams to get out of unwanted situations than it is for players.
However, Dudley's assessment misses the mark in one particular area. Much like Kendrick Perkins, he fails to adequately distinguish between Davis and George's demands, which came about at different times in entirely different situations.
George didn't request a trade -- publicly, at least -- until the season was over, after he had given everything he could to a full regular season and abbreviated playoff run and finished third in MVP voting. Conversely, Davis and his representation made his demands publicly known halfway through the regular season (at the latest), and essentially forced the Pelicans' hand into benching him throughout much of the second half.
In the end, Davis got what he wanted, just as George did. And, things didn't work out so badly for the Pelicans, who lucked into No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and an expedited rebuild.
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Do the ends justify the means? If you ask Davis, he'd undoubtedly tell you yes. Chances are his new teammates would, too. As for the league as a whole, though, don't expect Kerr's concerns to be allayed anytime soon.