Tampering became a hot topic this summer after free agency deals were signed remarkably quickly.

By Emily Caron
September 14, 2019

In an effort to crack down on tampering, the NBA sent a memo to teams about improving compliance through proposed rule changes, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The league reportedly proposed that a lead team ops member annually certify that the organization did not engage in impermissible free agency talks. The NBA also proposed significantly raising maximum fine amounts for violations regarding tampering and cap circumvention in hopes of preventing both. The maximum fine for tampering with player or team personnel would bump from $5 million to $10 million, per the proposal, and fines for unauthorized agreements could extend as high as $6 million for a team or $250,000 for an individual player.

The NBA also proposed increased enforcement of existing rules prohibiting player-to-player tampering as well as a requirement that each team governor certify that no unauthorized benefits were offered/provided and NBA owners would have to personally certify that every contract complies with all rules and teams would be required to report, within 24 hours, of a player/agent soliciting unauthorized benefits or contact regarding contract matters. Investigatory audits of five teams annually, at random, are also on the table. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on Sept. 20, per The Athletic, to pass new action items that have been advised across the board, from committees and league office.

Tampering became a hot topic again this summer after several deals—including Kevin Durant’s four-year deal with Brooklyn—hit the media within minutes of teams legally being allowed to negotiate them, while most of free agency was finished within 24 hours. By league rules, players and teams were not allowed to negotiate until 6 pm ET on June 30th yet many deals were done shortly after the period opened. Take Kemba Walker, for example. A deal for Walker to go to Boston was already reported before he could formally negotiate with the Celtics.

In July, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the need to re-think how the league does free agency in light of how free agency transpired this offseason.

“Obviously, if deals are being announced immediately after the discussion period begins, there had been prior discussions,” Silver said. “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. 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?’”

The league sent an anti-tampering memo to teams during the season as well after upset arose surrounding LeBron James and the Lakers' perceived violations when he told ESPN that it would be "incredible" to play with the Pelicans' Anthony Davis.

Davis eventually was traded to Los Angeles after the season ended.

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