In response to those who pointed out Durant was fully able to change teams as a free agent in 2016, Perkins clarified that the Golden State Warriors coach benefited greatly from that balance-of-power-altering move, which was viewed by many at the time as not necessarily in the NBA’s best interests.
Perkins was reacting to comments from Kerr that made waves Wednesday. Speaking on the Warriors Insider Podcast, Kerr said that as a former player himself, he “would always sort of lean toward player empowerment,” and if players “want to make a move for their own careers,” he was supportive of that.
“My only issue,” Kerr said, “is when a player who is under contract decides not to honor the contract. That’s a problem. That’s something that can really affect the league.”
"You sign contracts, you play them out and you move on. That’s how it should be done,” Kerr said.
“But it’s a little disturbing,” he added, “that there has been some action that’s happened before contracts are up, where teams are sort of held hostage and the league is sort of held hostage. I’m not a big fan of that. I think that’s damaging for everybody.”
When the podcast host mentioned Russell Westbrook and Paul George, who were traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder this month to the Houston Rockets (Westbrook) and the Los Angeles Clippers (George), Kerr replied that he was “talking more about the Anthony Davis situation, where a guy is perfectly healthy and has a couple years left on his deal and says, ‘I want to leave.’ "
“That’s a real problem that the league has to address and that the players have to be careful with,” he continued. “When you sign on that dotted line, you owe your effort and your play to that team, to that city, to the fans. And then it’s completely your right to leave as a free agent. But if you sign the contract, then you should be bound to that contract.”
Kerr said it would be one thing if a player were to reach an agreement with a team, acknowledging it would be best for the two to part ways, which he suggested was the case with Westbrook.
“But the Davis stuff was really kind of groundbreaking,” he said, “and hopefully not a trend, because it’s bad for the league.”
To Perkins — who played with Durant in Oklahoma City and with Davis in New Orleans — it was notable that Kerr didn’t discuss George “forcing his way” off the Thunder. Perkins claimed that was because Kerr is good friends with Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry.
A major difference between the Davis trade and those of Westbrook and George — as noted by both Kerr and the host of the podcast he appeared on — was that Davis made his demand during the season, throwing a team with playoff hopes into disarray. Davis was fined $50,000 by the NBA after his agent told ESPN in January that his client wanted to join “a team that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship,” with speculation immediately centering on the Lakers as the destination of choice.
“It all worked out in the end, but it probably could have been handled in a much quieter fashion,” Kerr said on the podcast. “And it would have been much healthier for the league had Davis just played out the season and then gone to the [Pelicans] this summer to kind of see where everybody stood.”
Kerr called that kind of midseason situation “one the league would like to see go away.”
The coach’s comments echoed those made by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in February, after the trade deadline came and went with Davis set to remain unhappily with the Pelicans for the rest of the season.
“I don’t like trade demands, and I wish they didn’t come,” Silver said at the time. “I wish all those matters were handled behind closed doors . . . I think we could do a better job as a league in avoiding those situations that get to the point where players are demanding to be traded or, in a worst-case scenario, saying they won’t honor their contract.”
On Twitter on Wednesday, Perkins defended Davis.
Perkins pointed to Chris Paul, who was dealt to Oklahoma City in the Westbrook trade after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey made a point of expressing his “disdain” for reports of tension in Houston.
“I don’t see sympathy for him,” Perkins said of the 34-year-old Paul, who went from a contender to a rebuilding team. “[Davis] just got in front of it, so Kudos to him!"
Read more from The Post: