The tampering rule in NBA gets discussed multiple times in a year, especially when players or coaches publicly talk about trading in players from rival teams. Here we look at the details of the rule.
Tampering in the NBA has been around forever and the league has time and again tried to enforce laws against it, in order to make it go away.
However, NBA teams, players and coaches continue to do it. Which brings the question; does the NBA take tampering seriously? Or are the rules in place just as a smokescreen?
NBA Tampering rules
The NBA Tampering(or anti-tampering) rules suggest that teams, player or coaches cannot approach or lure players on rival teams when they are bound by contracts with their respective teams.
This includes publicly stating interest in acquiring the services of the player or by contacting his agent about a possible trade.
What happens if a NBA team/player/coach is found tampering?
This is where things get tricky as far as the NBA tampering rules are concerned. The punishment for tampering isn’t very strict and hence tampering still exists on a large scale in the NBA fraternity.
Because of the subjectivity surrounding the ‘kind of tampering’, the NBA investigates the matter and then comes out with a set of punishments for the tampering party.
A stray statement of interest, could lead to a small token fine of $50,000. However, if the team is seen approaching a contracted player with a full fledged plan in place, fines could go as high as a million dollars.
However, in the larger scheme of things, a million dollars do not really matter to an NBA franchise. Especially if it gives them a foot in the door to acquire a great NBA talent.
The NBA has also stated that future draft picks could be voided for the team that gets involved in tampering, however, no such punishment has ever been dished out.
What should the NBA do about tampering?
The NBA can approach this in two ways; either get rid of the rule completely or propose tougher sanctions.
The latter seems a little difficult because taking away draft picks would have serious repercussions and could cause a lot of damage to the team’s development. But if the NBA is extremely serious about tampering, they’ll need to be as serious and tough with the punishments that go along with it.
The flip side could be that the NBA just wants to keep there rule there so that there is not a lot of tampering that goes around. And hence the punishment are mere ‘tokens’. But that doesn’t serve the purpose, does it? Hence if that’s the case, the NBA should do away with the rule completely and allow teams to talk to players even when they are under contract with another team.
Instances of tampering in the NBA
The highest fine that was imposed for tampering was in 2017, when the Lakers were fined $500,000 for trying to lure Paul George in when he was still under contract.
Rob Pelinka had had multiple conversations with Paul George’s agent, something that was confirmed in the investigation carried out by the NBA.
— Tony Sheahan (@TonySheahan) August 9, 2020
More recently, Draymond Green was fined $50,000 for expressing interest in getting Devin Booker to the Warriors.
Thus, the relatively small fines would keep the ‘public tampering’ instances in check. However, without greater consequences, teams will still be involved in tampering in the years to come.
Adam Silver and the NBA need to decide their stance against tampering and if it is worth taking all this effort for.