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

NBA teams are no strangers to tampering as they continue to break rules regarding contacting players. Let’s take a look into the consequences of tampering

NBA teams are no strangers to tampering as they continue to break rules regarding contacting players. Let’s take a look into the consequences of tampering
Rob CarrAFP

Over the years, the NBA has attempted to put a halt to 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 just get away with their actions and not get hurt. This does not only happen in the NBA, but also in endless other sports where laws are in place, but not necessarily enforced. A good example of this is the continuous use of steroids in the UFC, despite the “vigorous” USADA drug testing.

Anywho, let’s get into 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 member of the organization, coach, player, executive, or owner, cannot speak to a player on rival teams in an attempt to lure him to join their team. This includes publicly showing interest in acquiring the player or by 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, while 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 has the right to 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 Pelicans 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 almost never 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 as well, who seem to fancy breaking the rules. Daryl Morey, the franchise’s president, tweeted two words to Stephen Curry “join ‘em”, and got fined $75,000 for that.


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