The 2019 offseason was the summer of tampering in professional basketball. The illegal practice long committed under the radar became one of the most discussed topics of a wild NBA offseason. Whether it was Kawhi Leonard’s role in convincing Paul George to ask for a trade, the relationship between LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Klutch Sports or even the reporting of new contracts only minutes after the legal opening of free agency, almost every major move of this offseason included some cries of tampering from angered fans and teams.
Now, NBA owners and commissioner Adam Silver want to do something about it, and will vote on a series of new rules on Friday, Sept. 20. These changes are designed to prevent tampering and salary cap circumvention, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Under the proposed changes, a selected team ops member from each organization would have to verify that their respective team did everything by the book when it comes to free-agent signings each year. Additionally, NBA owners must personally certify that every contract complies with all established rules. The hope is that this eliminates player-to-player, as well as team tampering.
The league plans to randomly audit five teams each year to ensure that no rules were broken.
In an effort to prevent tampering, NBA sent memo to teams about improving compliance. Memo proposes that a lead team ops member certify annually that it didn’t engage in impermissible free agency talks; max fine amounts raised significantly.
Further proposed rules as NBA works to crack down on tampering: increased enforcement of existing rule prohibiting player-to-player tampering; require team governor to certify no unauthorized benefits were offered/provided; investigatory audits of 5 teams annually, at random.
As part of potential new guidelines, NBA owners must personally certify that every contract complies with all rules, per sources. Teams would be required to report, within 24 hours, of a player/agent soliciting unauthorized benefits or contact regarding contract matters.
Under the proposed changes, fines for tampering with team or player personnel would double — from $5 million to $10 million — while the fines for unauthorized agreements will jump up to $6 million for a team and $250,000 for a player.
The proposed changes don’t come as a surprise, as figuring out a way to curb tampering has been a priority of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, as he feels that such acts could hurt the league’s appearance of integrity.
“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,” 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?’
“I think the sense in the room was we should revisit those rules, think about what does make sense for our teams so that ultimately we can create a level playing field among the teams and that the partner teams have confidence that their competitors are adhering to the same set of rules they are.”