As Anthony Davis got fitted for his Los Angeles Lakers jersey while multiple big-money deals emerged only a few hours after the start of free agency, it became clear that whatever is supposed to stop tampering in the NBA isn’t working very well.
This offseason prompted an investigation by the league into free-agency tampering, and now it looks like it might make the rules a lot more punitive.
Hefty fines for NBA tampering on the way?
The NBA has proposed a whopping $10 million fine for teams found to have committed tampering, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN. Increasing fines for other offenses is also reportedly under consideration, but the tampering talk is obviously notable after the past few months.
The proposed tampering fines reportedly double the current limit. An unauthorized deal with a player could also reportedly cost teams $6 million, while “statement or conduct detrimental to the NBA” could cost $5 million, up from a current $1 million. Draft pick forfeitures, suspensions, voiding contracts and bans from hiring a tampered employee could be on the table, as well.
Per ESPN, the NBA wants to increase its fines to reflect a 600 percent increase in league revenue and 1,100 percent increase in franchise value since the maximum fines were last touched in 1996. Incredibly, such fines have stayed in the same place, despite every team hitting more than $1 billion in value.
The matter will be decided by a vote from the NBA’s Board of Governors on Sept. 20. Also reportedly under consideration are rules that would prohibit players from inducing other players under contract to request trades and would make it mandatory for teams to report within 24 hours if a player or agent requests unauthorized benefits.
Who can blame the NBA for doing this?
Obviously, this is meant to directly address what was an exciting, but eyebrow-raising offseason for the league.
Davis joined the Lakers, but after paying only a $50,000 fine for an improper trade request. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George turned the Los Angeles Clippers into instant contenders, but only after some reported recruiting by Leonard. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving teamed up on the Brooklyn Nets after what seemed like months of planning while under contract with other teams.
It was an offseason in which it looked like players could choose to force their way to a bigger-market team within a moment’s notice, not caring about light tampering penalties. That probably had to be addressed if the NBA wanted to make it seem like building and maintaining a long-term contender was still possible for smaller teams.
"I think the consensus at both our committee meetings and the board meeting was that we need to revisit and reset those rules, that some of the rules we have in place may not make sense," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in July. "I think that's what we discussed. I think it's pointless at the end of the day to have rules that we can't enforce. I think it hurts the perception of integrity around the league if people say, 'Well, you have that rule and it's obvious that teams aren't fully complying, so why do you have it?’”
It appears the NBA is working to change the answer to that last question in the future.
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