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Harden tampering investigation: what happens if 76ers are found guilty?

The 76ers are under investigation for possible trading regarding their free-agent signings, Harden, House and Tucker. What happens if they’re found guilty?

The 76ers are under investigation for possible trading regarding their free-agent signings, Harden, House and Tucker. What happens if they're found guilty?

The Philadelphia 76ers are under investigation by the NBA for possible tampering as it seems that they got in early contact signings of James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Harden’s decision to turn down his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season and re-sign at a lower number is the sketchiest part of the investigation. The second puzzle piece is that this move gave Philadelphia the cap space they needed to add Tucker and House, two important pieces for the franchise, who signed a three-year, $30 million deal and a two-year, $8.4 million deal respectively.

Whether the sides have already put this deal in place is at the heart of the investigation, as teams weren’t allowed to reach out to players before June 30 at 6 pm ET.

Related: What is tampering in the NBA? Rules, penalties and examples

What happens if the Philadelphia 76ers are found guilty of tampering?

Before we directly answer this question, it is safe to say that while tampering is not “okay” in the NBA, it has been bypassed by the league for so many years. Hefty fines or harsh consequences due to tampering have never been applied except for one or two times, which still did not break the structure or reputation of those teams.

One of those times actually involves the Sixers’ president Darly Morey, who tweeted two words to Stephen Curry “join ‘em”, and got a $75,000 fine. The league deemed that was going after Stephen Curry.

So what happens if the Sixers are found guilty, again? Well, they “could” be stripped of their draft picks, have their free-agent signings voided, or even have executives involved in the deal suspended. Whether these consequences will actually be enforced or not is a question mark (that everyone doubts), but at least the league has been making public efforts to prove legit.

In 2019, the NBA raised the maximum team fine for tampering to $10 million, to go along with a $6 million fine for inappropriate deals, in addition to a $5 million fine for comments enticing other teams’ players.

Wojnarowski reminded the NBA world of that rule in 2021, following two sign-and-trade deals completed in free agency, Pelicans and Bulls centered on Lonzo Ball, and Raptors and Heat centered on Kyle Lowry.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the league does this time.


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