NBA Conducting Investigation Of Tampering

In response to tampering complaints, the NBA is investigating some of the earliest agreements reached in free agency, according to Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The process will include interviews with players and possibly agents and team employees as well.

Suspicions were raised as some free agent deals were announced immediately upon the arrival of the negotiating period, which began at 6pm Eastern Time on June 30. A few agreements were leaked ahead of that hour, prompting questions about the legality of the process.

The announcement of the investigation came after a “tense” owners meeting in Las Vegas in which everyone present was encouraged to express their grievances. Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who lost Kemba Walker to a quickly announced deal with the Celtics, suggested the need to alter the way free agency is conducted in the next collective bargaining agreement. Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, who could have the top free agent in 2021 when Giannis Antetokounmpo hits the market, discussed “gray areas” of the current rules against tampering.

NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan reminded teams that they are all expected to abide by the rules and promised a revised set of regulations that will be strictly enforced. He mentioned “seizing servers and cellphones” to track any illegal contact that teams might make.

Other possible solutions being considered by the league include:

  • Allowing teams to negotiate with their own free agents after the Finals have concluded. Some executives and agents admit that the free agent process now unofficially begins at the draft combine in May when meetings over potential picks expand into talk about free agent clients.
  • Holding free agency before the draft. The Rockets submitted a formal proposal to enact this change last year, but only got support from 10 teams, sources tell Lowe and Windhorst.
  • Cutting back the moratorium, which extended this year from June 30 to July 6. It exists to give the league time to account for all its revenue from the previous season and set an accurate salary cap.
  • Granting teams more time and more freedom to talk with free agents before they officially reach the market.

Several teams also complained about the new trend toward family members serving as virtual agents and making requests not covered by the CBA. Some used Kawhi Leonard‘s uncle, Dennis Robertson, as an example, but the authors point out that there have been many other similar cases. Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that “things are being discussed that don’t fall squarely within the collective bargaining agreement.” There was sentiment at the meeting to require family members who assume that role to go through the union’s agent certification process.

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22 thoughts on “NBA Conducting Investigation Of Tampering

  1. metnoxious

    The problem is you can’t keep players from talking to each other and deciding where they will go. They already know which teams are up on their hind legs begging so it’s the players that decide to grace teams with their presence.

    • hiflew

      Why can’t you stop them? If you can stop execs from talking to players, you can make it illegal for a player under contract with one team to talk with a free agent. These are grown men. They shouldn’t need to talk with their buddies to decide what they are going to do with their career. That is what spouses are for.

      • camdenyards46

        But why should they be barred from talking to their friends? That’s dumb

      • Reflect

        Because players are inevitably going to be friends with other players. There is no realistic solution. At least with players v execs there’s enough separation to enforce it.

      • Natergater77

        1.How do you police that and not invade their privacy? How do you know they talked about work and not other things?
        2. Just be quiet about guys joining forces, playing with their friends or whatever. If your best friend called you and said “Hey I can get you the money you want and as a duo we will run the company” you’d go. It’s business, fans thinking it’s unfair is ridiculous.

        Now for the player and their legacy yes it hurts. LeBron has never helped develop another guy and did an MJ Scottie deal. He has signed and traded for his teammates. So some say that’s why he’ll never measure up to Mike. Mike took Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright and Will Perdue abs to the finals and won.

      • LordBanana

        Why would free agents be restricted from talking to anyone and why would anyone be restricted from talking to them? They are free agents.
        If KD and Kyrie want to play out their contracts and sign with the same team why try to restrict that?

  2. bowserhound

    Players under contract with a team should be help to the same rules as the teams GM. Free agents can talk to each other all they want, but this is turning into some sort of Justice League.

    Pending free agents and RFA’s should have a week to talk to teams before they can agree to sign. The current system just doesn’t work.

    RFA’s should only be allowed to talk to their current team for a week prior to that.

    All trades involving draft picks must be completed a week prior to Summer League.

  3. tharrie0820

    Doesn’t basketball have a legal tampering period? or am I getting it confused with football?

  4. ChiSoxCity

    You can’t stop tampering. Impossible. What you can do is re-structure free agency to make it more costly for players due max contracts to leave teams. Face it, the league is already watered down as it is. The media tries to sell the idea that a balanced league is bad for the game. From the fan perspective, a balanced league means better teams and a better product for consumers. So, here’s how I would fix it:

    1. Any player who turns down a max contract offer from their current team takes a 35% paycut on their next contract.

    2. Any player turning down a max contract from their current team to go elsewhere MUST commit to a minimum of four years with their new team.

    These two changes would create more stability around the league and help to create competitive balance.

    • LordBanana

      That’s also wildly restrictive and the players have a 0% chance of agreeing to it. The random team that drafts you shouldn’t have such an impact on a decade of your career.

  5. Reflect

    Just get rid of the dumb moratorium and all of these problems would go away. A player should be fair game as soon as he has played his last game for his current team. There’s no actual benefit to imposing any restrictions beyond that.

  6. The league needs “tampering” first. Team-to-player discussions don’t happen (directly) so yeah investigate away, it’s meaningless. Player-to-player discussions have become a problem, but it’s not at the heart of it. Agent-to-team discussions are. Unless that’s going to be fly spec’d, it’s a pointless exercise. The “nothing can be done about it” argument is always amusing when made by an NBA official. This league has elevated myopia to an art form. All of a sudden they’re big picture people that don’t want rules that might not be easy to enforce.

  7. thebighurt619

    Easiest solution is to haggle for draft pick capital so if a player leaves in FA a team can at least get something in return.

    Each team gets a competitive balance tender per year and depending how much the free agent signs for depends on the tier of the pick (after 1st round or after 2nd round).

    Itd also help teams who trade the world for a player to recoup value and picks to be competitive.

    • dmarcus15

      I agree with you baseball has done this and it’s stopped the super team from being created through FA

        • padam

          But it’s just one pick the team recoups and baseball teams can’t move picks for a period of time after being selected. Can’t package a boat full of draft picks as part of a deal in baseball before they’re selected.

    • x%sure

      hiflew these “Grown men” are also US citizens and as such have rights. They are not trading cards. Rules have to be followed and in this country it starts with the US Constition.

      You talk about education so much but advocate a policy that would not hold up in court even if it were in the CBA.

      • x%sure

        Wrong thread. I don’t know who I want to holler at the most on this page.

        Compensatory picks cannot work logistically in the NBA.
        Gaaaa There are no victims here!

  8. dmarcus15

    Do like baseball and football does teams that sign top players have to forfeit draft picks to the other team. For me professional sport are getting harder and harder to watch every year because player flip flop from team to team hard to get behind a superstar because he isn’t going to be there long term.

  9. ChiSoxCity

    Draft picks outside the lottery are worthless as compensation in the NBA. NBA drafts aren’t deep enough, and the limited roster size makes anything lower than 15th overall a liability.

  10. London Werewolf

    The teams were not even trying to hide the tampering. The timing makes it obvious. Those teams should lose a first rounder and their free agent is set free.
    Remember Joe Smith…

  11. padam

    Problem is the owners are also the enablers. Can’t stop players from talking to each other, but those pre-FA deals that were leaking had to have been communicated and agreed to by owners. Sadly, you have one side of the owners table complaining while the other side is enabling.

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