The NBA has issued a memo to all 30 of its teams, reminding them about the rules – and warning them of the consequences – related to tampering, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league’s statement to clubs indicates that “employment contracts are to be respected and conduct that interferes with contractual employment relationships is prohibited.”
The memo is presumably a response to last week’s mini-controversy, which arose after Lakers star LeBron James said it would be “amazing” to play with Pelicans big man Anthony Davis. As Wojnarowski detailed last Friday, the NBA’s lack of response to those comments upset several general managers around the league, especially those in smaller markets. Among those GMs, there’s a perception that the NBA turns a blind eye to tampering violations when big-market teams go after smaller-market stars.
An NBA spokesperson issued a statement to Woj last week to explain why the league didn’t view James’ comments as tampering. Still, it seems the league office found it necessary to further clarify its tampering-related rules as speculation about a possible Davis trade continues.
“Teams should be aware that the scope of the anti-tampering rule is broad, and its application in any given case is based on all facts and circumstances,” the NBA’s memo reads, per Wojnarowski. “Accordingly, conduct that doesn’t violate the rule in any single instance may nevertheless constitute a violation if it becomes repeated or part of a broader collection of improper actions. Teams should therefore refrain from any conduct – including public statements – that could be viewed as targeting or expressing interest in another team’s player.”
The league also warned that respecting other teams’ contracts with players is particularly important in “today’s media environment,” since public comments speculating about potential player movement receive “immediate and widespread” attention and coverage.
“Teams should be entitled to focus their efforts on the competition this season with the players they have under contract, without having to divert attention or resources to conduct or speculation regarding the potential destinations of those players in future seasons once their contracts expire,” the NBA said in its memo.