Significant changes could be coming to the NBA after an exciting but somewhat embarrassing offseason of player movement that reeked of potential tampering.
The league is slated to vote on a number of anti-tampering measures, with a $10 million maximum fine for teams found guilty of tampering, on Friday despite some worries around basketball about the power they could give to commissioner Adam Silver’s office, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Silver reportedly doesn’t seem too concerned those worries will lead to enough “no” votes, though as ESPN notes that the league rarely brings proposals to a vote unless it is confident it has the 23 “yes” votes needed to pass the measure.
The anti-tampering rules on the table for NBA owner
In addition to the proposed $10 million fine for tampering, among the reportedly possible rules changes are:
a maximum $6 million fine for an unauthorized deal with a player
a maximum $5 million fine and possible stripping of draft picks for conduct detrimental to the NBA
a maximum $10 million fine for rule violations without a specific penalty (e.g. Donald Sterling)
requiring teams to report within 24 hours if a player or agent asks for an illegal benefit
requiring teams preserve communications with players and agents for one year
banning players from pushing other players under contract to request trades
investigatory audits of five random teams each year to assess compliance
requiring league owners and top basketball operations officials to annually sign documents promising they did not tamper
Why are some in the NBA worried about anti-tampering rules?
Obviously, the natural opponents of anti-tampering measures are, well, the teams that have benefited from such eyebrow-raising conduct. However, ESPN’s reports indicate that worries go beyond that arena.
A group of “numerous league officials, team owners, general managers and agents” reportedly told ESPN there is uncertainty about how the league might implement the rules and that the league might be rushing into changes after an offseason of extremes.
The idea of an audit exposing not just tampering, but everything else that can be found on a general manager’s phone doesn’t sound very popular.
"I don't think [Silver] should have any right to get into my phone," one GM told ESPN. "I wish my owner would vote no, but I doubt he will. You'll only make yourself a target for investigation if you do."
There were also reportedly questions if the rule changes will actually lead to any meaningful shifts. Silver already reportedly holds the ability to levy millions in fines, strip draft picks and investigate tampering allegations, but he seemed to mostly hold off on severe penalties this offseason.
Changing so much often leads to unintended consequences, but the question remains if any of these qualms could push a team into allowing itself to be publicly considered pro-tampering once the votes are counted.
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