Addressing the Issue of Tampering
Note: David Stern has dismissed the notion that any tampering has occurred in the recruitment of the Big Three. Said Stern, “The three players are totally, as our system has evolved, within their rights to talk to each other. That is not tampering or collusion that is prohibited. That’s our rule, right now.”
Each of the Big Three is now officially a member of the Miami Heat.
Questions are now beginning to surface about how they got here, and whether or not it would constitute tampering. At issue are supposed meetings, both face-to-face and telephonically, prior to the July 1 start of free agency, to discuss the possibility of playing together.
Tampering is when a player or team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades anybody (player, general manager, etc.) who is under contract with another team to negotiate for their services. The NBA takes tampering very seriously and may impose stiff penalties if it is discovered. However, the league will not typically investigate unless the team that for which the player is under contract files tampering charges.
Although each member of the trio was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and unrestricted free agents have no such restrictions, each was technically still under contract to his existing team until June 30.
In this case, Commissioner David Stern said Sunday that the league would investigate the Heat’s additions of Lebron James and Chris Bosh for any issues of tampering if the Cavaliers or Raptors make such a request.
The Cavaliers and Raptors each actively negotiated with the Heat subsequent to their departing free agent’s decision to head to Miami. Each completed a sign-and-trade agreement pursuant to their player’s departure, extracting a combined total of six draft picks – four first rounders and two second rounders – as compensation. While neither team has specifically ruled out filing tampering charges, it would appear that each would rather move on in their individual rebuilding processes.
But Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban, who mounted his own unsuccessful push for James, has no such plans.
Cuban went public with his desire to acquire James in a CNNMoney.com interview in May.
Come July 1st, yeah, of course, anybody would be interested in LeBron James, and if he leaves via free agency, then it’s going to be tough. If he does like I’m guessing, hoping he will, which is say, ‘I’m not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,’ if he decides to leave – there’s still a better chance he stays – then he’ll try to force a sign-and-trade, and that gives us a chance.
He was fined $100,000 by the league for tampering.
Cuban has made it publicly known that he would like Commissioner Stern to further investigate the allegations of wrong-doing between the three players.
Stern had previously told reporters he would not punish any players who supposedly participated in any summit meetings, and that players are not subject to the same strict rules as teams when it comes to tampering – except in extreme cases, when it can be proven that a player was operating as a direct extension of team management.
Such an extension to the Heat organization seems unlikely. It is widely known that the three players are good friends, and enjoyed playing together for the gold-medal winning Team USA in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It is further known that the idea of teaming up came about all the way back in the summer of 2007, when they all signed contract extensions which contained an opt-out clause allowing them to become free agents at the same time, in the summer of 2010.
It does not appear at this point that the events surrounding the additions of the Big Three by the Miami Heat will be further investigated. However, South Floridians may be wondering what the consequences to the Big Three could be if the players are further investigated.
Below in an excerpt from the NBA Constitution:
Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce, or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiates or contracts for such services shall, on being charged with such tampering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained; in the event his decision is that the charges have been sustained, then the Commissioner shall have the power to suspend such Player for a definite or indefinite period, or to impose a fine not exceeding $50,000, or inflict both such suspension and fine upon any such Player.
The players would be looking at a maximum $50,000 fine and an indefinite suspension.
The issue of tampering appears not to be all that much of an issue at all.