Tampering is the gripe of the hour among NBA owners, which explains why the league’s board of governors will vote on new measures this coming Friday. “It’s pointless, at the end of the day, to have rules that we can’t enforce,” reads a quote by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in the middle of an ESPN story about a number of proposed rules that seem basically impossible to enforce. These proposals are intended to tamp down on what is, broadly, “enticing or inducing a player under contract with another team to play for your team.”
If you’ve paid close attention to the NBA in the last year, you’re familiar with the concept of tampering. It’s the reason why Magic Johnson can’t spew his usual banalities without bleeding pocket change, the deed Anthony Davis was accused of doing to himself, and the mechanism by which a billion dollars in salary was committed within 24 hours of free agency negotiations legally opening. And somehow, tampering might soon be an offense that could cost teams $10 million, assuming that the NBA’s fine ceilings are elevated in the Friday meeting as well. (For context, former Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million for being racist to his core.)
Per ESPN, here are some of the anti-tampering proposals, many of which approximate the seriousness of a pinky swear, and at least one of which may offer a great outlet for grudges among team employees:
- A requirement that a team report, within 24 hours, any instance of an agent or player representative asking for a benefit that is not allowed under the salary cap or collective bargaining agreement (“unauthorized benefits”)
- A requirement that teams preserve communications with players and their agents for one year
- New channels for teams and team employees to anonymously report rules violations or tampering
- Prohibiting players from inducing players under contract to request trades
- A proposal to conduct investigatory audits of five randomly selected teams each year to assess compliance with system rules
It’s not clear that this will take, and in any case, it’s hard to care too much about an “offense” that opens up the communication channels that allow players to make the most informed possible decisions about their careers. All that chatter is probably still going to happen anyway, under the shroud of plausible deniability.
Here’s another suggestion: Send the owners copies of an original picture book called Everybody Tampers. That should help them overcome their squeamishness.