In a Saturday session of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Rockets GM Daryl Morey revealed that he’s brought the idea of “contingency clauses” in trades to NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
In explaining the idea, Morey used the James Harden deal as an example: “If that Harden trade had [a clause saying], ‘If he becomes an All-Star, you have to send another first-round pick, or if he fails, we get back a pick,’ I think that would really grease a lot of deals.”
According to Morey, “One thing that made the James Harden deal, or any big deal, hard is that you have fear on both sides.” Allowing contingency clauses in NBA trades might “allow teams to not operate out of fear” and lead to more transactions overall.
Morey continued, “I actually brought it up with the commissioner, and he thought it was interesting. There are some practical reasons why the league won’t allow that, though I think there might be a way to overcome them.”
Other American professional sports leagues have implemented versions of this idea: Major League Baseball allows trades for “players to be named later,” chosen months after a deal is completed from a predetermined list. And the NHL uses the term “future considerations,” where the exact draft pick relinquished as part of a trade is determined by the level of play of the player after the trade.
Said Warriors GM Bob Myers, a fellow Sloan panelist: “The NBA, more than any other league, is the most constricted.”
Perhaps adding contingency clauses to the NBA GM’s toolbox could help that.