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NBA details tampering guidelines, including players inducing others to demand trade

NBA commissioner Adam Silver

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during the announcement of the The NBA-backed Basketball Africa League (BAL) at the Museum of Black Civilisations in Dakar, on July 30 2019. - The NBA-backed Basketball Africa League (BAL) unveiled host cities Tuesday for its inaugural season, with Kigali, Rwanda, as the named host city for the first semi-final and championship games. Cairo, Egypt; Dakar, Senegal; Lagos, Nigeria; Luanda, Angola; Rabat, Morocco and a Tunisian city, Tunis or Monastir, were announced as the sites for BAL regular-season games. The BAL, featuring 12 club teams from across Africa, is set to begin play in March 2020. (Photo by Seyllou / AFP) (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

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It happens multiple times during a season: A media member would be talking to a GM and say, “what do you think of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s play the past weeks?” That GM would respond with something casual and obvious like “he’s a force of nature, one of the game’s top players.”

Two days later, that GM would be $25,000 poorer, fined for tampering. It was always rather silly.

It’s too late for Magic Johnson, but that fine is going away; however, other rules are being tightened up teams were told in a memo from the league on Friday. Shams Charania of The Athletic got a hold of it.

A few thoughts:

As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver detailed, the league is only going after player-to-player tampering when it is done as a proxy or agent of a team. For example, this summer Kawhi Leonard influenced Paul George to ask for a trade out of Oklahoma City. At the time, Leonard was essentially a free agent (technically he was still under contract with the Raptors, but he certainly wasn’t working on their behest) and the league can’t go after a free agent in that setting. Nor will they go after just a couple of players going to dinner and talking about playing together one day. However, if the Clippers had orchestrated and guided Leonard’s moves — and there is absolutely no indication of this, on and off the record officials with the team have said they were surprised by the request to get George — then the league would come down hard on the team.

• Some teams and GMs were very up in arms about the idea of the league taking phones or computers during the random audits. That said, they will be asked to keep a record of correspondence with agents and other teams (which teams can easily circumvent with burner phones and the like, but that’s another discussion).

• The hotline is a decent idea in that it’s low cost. Not sure if anyone calls it, however.