NBA Executive Pushing for More Control of Players’ Offseason Workouts

by December 14, 2012

According to one anonymous and very frustrated NBA front-office executive, teams need to have a bigger say in what kind of training (and with whom it’s done) players go through during the offseason. It’s a very thorny issue, but the exec seems convinced that new rules governing workouts are needed. Per SI: “You would love to see the team who pays the player have, if not complete control, at least consensual agreement over who the player works with,’ the team executive said. ‘Let the team have some oversight of that, so that the team can say, ‘No, we don’t want you dealing with this person.’ Somehow we need to have it written into the contract so that if something happens and it’s not under team supervision, then it’s going to be an issue.’ In other words, if something were to go wrong for the player while he trained outside the team’s supervision, then the team could have the right to penalize the player financially. Players are already prohibited contractually from dangerous activities as well as from playing in specified summer leagues. But this would be an entirely new realm, and it would lead to acrimony. Players would accuse owners of trying to weaken guaranteed contracts. In some cases, players don’t trust the medical advice they receive from teams. A leading NBA agent suggested that some franchises hire a team doctor as if filling a sponsorship position, with physician’s practices paying to be the official doctor of a team. ‘That’s why they don’t hire the best doctors,’ he said. Agents often hire trainers to work with the players they represent. In turn, the teams then routinely accuse agents of providing training or medical advice that is not necessarily in the best interest of the player. This is a complicated issue for the same reason that everyday, non-athletic patients in all walks of life are advised to seek out opinions from multiple doctors. […] ‘Maybe you could allow contracts to be structured so players get some bonuses if they’re working out at the team facility in the offseason,’ Casey Smith, head trainer for the Dallas Mavericks said. ‘Football does a good job of getting guys to work out at the [NFL] facilities in their offseason. I don’t know if something like that would be part of the solution. I think communication with the teams is the most important thing, and management should be on top of that.’ Said the GM: ‘The players don’t want to spend $35,000 a month on a personal trainer — but if you don’t give them somebody to work out with, then they’ll go out and spend the $35,000. I do think this is a problem. But I don’t think it’s a huge epidemic.’ The rival team executive disagrees. ‘I believe it’s coming,’ he said of a demand for new rules. ‘Too many things keep happening.'”