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Report: NBA now forbids teams from using apps that auto-delete communication with players, agents

NBA commissioner Adam Silver

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 17: Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, speaks onstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit at Pier 17 on October 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TIME 100 Health Summit )

Getty Images for TIME 100 Health

To crack down on widespread tampering, the NBA began requiring teams to keep communications with agents and players for one year. The league can audit five teams annually.

But what about workarounds?

Pete Thamel, Seerat Sohi and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports:

A source with knowledge of the memo told Yahoo Sports the NBA also mandated a new rule: Team personnel may not use apps that auto-delete relevant communication.

Good luck enforcing this. The whole point of those apps is masking whether contact occurred in the first place.

The upside of tampering – a leg up in acquiring a superstar player – remains high. As long as that’s the case, teams will cut corners when they believe they can get away with it. With today’s technology, that’s easy enough.

The NBA’s biggest deterrent is the threat of making an example of a team. Nobody wants to bear the whole weight of anti-tampering resentment. Perhaps, the league will audit a team so suddenly, someone gets caught using an app that automatically deletes communication – even if the precise message isn’t intercepted.

Still, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “There are no silver bullets.” He’s trying to change the cultural, rather than technical, treatment of tampering. He wants everyone to view it as cheating and shameful, which might have a better chance of succeeding.

Because new rules like this seem barely enforceable, at best.