After discovering that the Sixers held early free agent discussions with forwards P.J. Tucker and Danuel House prior to the permitted date, the NBA announced today (via Twitter) that it has rescinded the team’s 2023 and 2024 second-round picks.
The league noted that Philadelphia “fully cooperated” with its investigation into tampering, or “gun-jumping.” The Sixers released a statement confirming the news (Twitter link via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps).
“The Philadelphia 76ers fully cooperated with the NBA’s investigation and acknowledge the league’s ruling. We’re moving forward, focused on the season ahead.”
As Shams Charania of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), while the NBA did dock the Sixers for the early discussions with Tucker and House, it found no wrongdoing with James Harden‘s significant pay cut, which gave the Sixers the flexibility to use their full non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Tucker and their bi-annual exception to sign House. Both players previously played with Harden on the Rockets under former president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who is now Philadelphia’s top basketball executive.
Some around the league have wondered whether the Sixers and Harden already have a future deal in place, which is against the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Such a handshake agreement would involve declining his player option in 2023 and signing a lucrative new contract at that time.
Marc Stein first reported that the Sixers were likely to face a tampering investigation, and he was also one of the first reporters to link Tucker to Philadelphia, with rival teams reportedly convinced that Tucker was signing a three-year deal for the mid-level multiple days before free agency officially opened.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the NBA and the Players Association are expected to discuss tampering and the punishments that teams face when found guilty, as early free agent discussions are “rampant, but hard to police and largely impossible to eliminate.” The two sides are currently in early negotiations for a new CBA.