The Detroit Pistons hope they have one of the next superstars of the NBA in Cade Cunningham.
Superstars ultimately win you titles, and whether they come in the top-5 of the draft or outside of the lottery (as was the case with Giannis Antetokounmpo), teams are all looking for that one guy they can build around and hopefully the Detroit Pistons have finally found theirs.
Superstars are more valuable than ever, as they not only give teams a chance to compete, but also sell tickets and merchandise, which is why the Golden State Warriors will go deep into the luxury tax to keep their stars together, as they know they will make it up on the back end.
This, along with the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, has given stars more power than ever, which is ultimately a good thing.
As a fan, I am all for player empowerment, as I don’t watch the games for the owners, nor do I care if a bunch of billionaires have to spend some of their money on the players who ultimately make the league what it is.
But things have gotten a little out of control over recent years, and even though the drama is ultimately good for business, I am not sure if it is good for the health of the NBA overall.
Detroit Pistons: The NBA has a superstar problem.
The most recent controversy around player empowerment has revolved around two players, Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant.
Yesterday it was announced that Simmons would recoup a portion of the salary he lost last season when he chose not to play a single game:
Simmons held out long before claiming his mental health was in decline, and it was clear early on that he had no intention of playing for the 76ers last season even though he was under contract.
I take mental health seriously and don’t think anyone should have to play in a toxic work environment, but Simmons didn’t even show up and refused to see team physicians and counselors when given the opportunity. Was mental health a convenient excuse or did he just not want to play in Philly (who would?) after his coaches and teammates threw him under the bus?
Either way, the 76ers are now on the hook for paying millions to a guy who didn’t work for them last season and then forced them to make what could ultimately be a bad trade for the franchise.
Next up is Kevin Durant, who is already holding out and saying he won’t play for the Nets next season and is demanding to be traded even though he has four years left on his contract.
Can we now just admit that these contracts are more worthless than the paper they are signed on? All a superstar has to do is say “I don’t want to play” and can demand a trade before the ink is even dry.
Durant doesn’t even have mental health to fall back on, he just doesn’t think Brooklyn is a title contender and probably doesn’t want to be involved in the Simmons/Kyrie media circus that always seems to follow these two players.
Like I said, I am all for player empowerment, but this just seems ridiculous. It leads to a lot of drama (and clicks) but it’s ultimately not good for the league if a handful of players can dictate everything and can make trade demands that will shift the balance of power in the league.
It makes me wonder what will happen if the Detroit Pistons don’t start winning soon with Cade Cunningham. How far will this go? Will star players start demanding trades before their rookie deal is even up? Will rookie players start holding out if they don’t like the team that drafts them?
I am not out here stanning for billionaire owners, this is about the fans of teams who get sick of watching their franchises held hostage by the whims of superstars. It’s a problem the NBA is going to have to address in the next collective bargaining agreement, as it is not good for the health of the league and certainly not good for fans.