Three NBA teams were fined for tampering, USA Today reported Monday. The information was based on a league memo obtained by USA Today, and although the names of the teams have not been made public, a source told the newspaper that the Atlanta Hawks are one of the teams that's been fined. In a statement sent to USA Today, the Hawks said, "We fully understand and respect the NBA's decision." ESPN.com reported that the Houston Rockets were also fined a "small" amount, according to a source. The identity of the third team remains unknown. The amount of the fines is unknown at this point, and there is a wide range of penalties the NBA can levy against offenders. Fines for tampering can reach $5 million. The memo said teams were fined because "The conduct at issue involved statements by a team employee to the media, a team email to prospective season ticket purchasers, and articles posted online on a team website, each related to players who are currently under contract to other teams but who will become free agents this summer." A Hawks employee had sent a notice to season ticketholders that said Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Lakers center Dwight Howard might be signed by the Hawks. According to league rules, "Article 35A of the NBA Constitution states that it's a violation of the league's anti-tampering rule for any person affiliated with an NBA team to directly or indirectly (i) entice, induce, or persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any player, coach, GM or other person under contract to any other NBA team to enter into negotiations for or relating to that person's services or to negotiate or contract for such services, or (ii) otherwise interfere with the employment relationship between that employee and the other NBA team."
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