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What is tampering in the NBA? Penalties, rules and examples

Tampering is common in the NBA, with teams frequently breaking the rules in their attempts to contact players. Let’s examine the repercussions.

Tampering is common in the NBA, with teams frequently breaking the rules in their attempts to contact players. Let’s examine the repercussions.

Over the years, the NBA has attempted to halt the consistently continuous tampering in the league. But like with other rules, several NBA teams tend to find the sweet spot that will allow them to get away with their actions and not get hurt. This does not only happen in the NBA but also in other sports where laws are in place but not necessarily enforced. An excellent example is the continuous use of steroids in the UFC, despite the “vigorous” USADA drug testing.

Let’s understand what tampering in the NBA means and what the rule in place is all about.

NBA tampering rules; what is the tampering rule?

The NBA states that any organization member, coach, player, executive, or owner cannot speak to a player on rival teams to lure him to join their team. This includes publicly showing interest in acquiring the player or approaching his agent about a possible trade.

And while the rule has been sitting tightly in its place forever, it’s rarely enforced strictly. The consequences of tampering aren’t major enough to stop teams from doing it, so franchises continue to approach players, keep fans on their toes, and preserve the excitement of the game.

Related: Why has the NBA opened a ‘tampering’ investigation against the Philadelphia 76ers?

What are the consequences of tampering in the NBA?

The penalty for tampering in the NBA can involve an array of punishments, depending on several variables. If a team official is found guilty of tampering, he can be fined up to $10 million; if an active player is, he can be suspended from games. Additionally, violating teams can have their free agent signings voided, draft picks taken away, and trades reversed.

The league can launch an audit at any time (like USADA with drug testing), with all types of communication, like emails, texts, and social media interactions, randomly investigated.

However, as mentioned above, these rules are rarely enforced, and when they are, it is usually a low-key fine for a tweet or something similar.

Are the Philadelphia Sixers tampering?

Besides the recent double-trouble situation with Toronto Raptors sending Kyle Lowry to Miami and Pelican’s sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago in what was investigated for tampering, the 76ers joined the club in the latest tampering situation.

Following the Sixers’ offseason free-agent signings of James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House Jr, the NBA decided to investigate the franchise’s early contact centered on their signings. More on that here.

Have there been NBA teams fined heavily for tampering before?

NBA franchises have rarely been given harsh consequences as a result of tampering. The latest and most exaggerated penalty was when the Los Angeles Lakers were fined $500,000 for VP Rob Pelinka approaching All-Star Paul George’s representatives when he was still under contract with the Indiana Pacers.

Another one, arguably the most extreme NBA penalty ever, involved the 76ers, who also seem to fancy breaking the rules. Daryl Morey, the franchise’s president, tweeted two words to Stephen Curry, “join ‘em,” and was fined $75,000.