Community Shootaround: New Anti-Tampering Rules

Tampering has quietly existed in the NBA for decades, but teams, players and agents barely tried to hide it this summer. Several big-money contracts were announced shortly after the official start of free agency on June 30 that were obviously too complex to have been formed during the few minutes in which negotiations were legal.

Teams that lost stars complained loudly about the process, and the league decided action had to be taken. The NBA’s Board of Governors voted yesterday to adopt tough new rules, which include a fine of up to $10MM if it’s determined that “egregious” tampering has taken place.

Commissioner Adam Silver stressed that the penalties may not stop with fines. Suspensions of team executives, forfeiting draft picks and voiding contracts are all now on the table.

“We need to ensure that we’re creating a culture of compliance in this league,” Silver said. “Our teams want to know that they’re competing on a level playing field and frankly don’t want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.”

The league also has the authority to review cell phones and other electronic communication devices to look for evidence of tampering. That provision has raised the most concern among team officials, who fear that their privacy may be violated and sensitive information could be leaked.

This is hardly the first time the league has promised to crack down on tampering, but the tough talk has never made a difference in the past. Part of the problem is that many of the sales pitches made to players who are under contract come from other players, which the league acknowledges it can’t prevent. There’s no way to stop players at an All-Star Game or an international competition from talking about becoming NBA teammates some day. And the league can’t do anything if friends like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving make plans to join forces when they hit free agency at the same time.

Previous penalties for tampering have never been strong enough to scare teams. The Clippers and Nets, for instance, wouldn’t care how much they were fined or how many draft picks they had to surrender as long as they get to keep the new stars they added.
We want to get your input. Will these latest rules on tampering make a difference, or will business as usual continue behind the scenes? 

Head to our comment section below to share your feedback.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Roster, Taylor, Tampering

Several coaches and executives believe Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has a strong case for a maximum extension after his breakthrough season, writes Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Siakam was fighting for playing time in his first two NBA campaigns, but he earned Most Improved Player honors for 2018/19 by posting a 16.9/6.9/3.1 line in 80 games.

“With Toronto in the situation that they’re in, no longer having Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green, Pascal Siakam may be a safe bet for them and they may want to give him a max extension to lock him up,” one Western Conference coach said. “I’ve been impressed with his development; he’s improved into a highly, highly serviceable player who’s very efficient and does a lot for that team. From the outside looking in, it seems like he’ll be able to continue his development too. He seems highly motivated and very grateful to be in the situation he’s in and he doesn’t take anything for granted.”

However, a couple of executives questioned whether Toronto should commit to a full max deal right now, saying it might be wiser to let him play out this season and negotiate with him as a restricted free agent next summer.

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Doug Smith of The Toronto Star takes a look at the battle for roster spots as training camp draws closer. With 12 players holding guaranteed contracts and three with Exhibit 10 deals, Smith expects the competition for the three open slots to be decided among Cameron Payne, Isaiah Taylor, Malcolm Miller, Chris Boucher and Dewan Hernandez.
  • The two-year contract that Taylor signed this week contains a $50K guarantee for the first season, but no protection beyond that, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. If he stays on the roster, Taylor will receive $1.62MM for this season and $1.76MM for 2020/21. Marks notes that it’s similar to the deal that Payne received, except it offers a $100K smaller guarantee.
  • Columnist Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star calls the NBA’s newly adopted tougher stance on tampering more of a “nuisance” than a deterrent. He adds that little could be done to punish the Clippers for their aggressive recruitment of Leonard last season because the wealth of owner Steve Ballmer makes a $10MM fine insignificant, and most of the team’s upcoming draft picks already belong to Oklahoma City from the Paul George trade.

Five Key Stories: 9/14/19 – 9/21/19

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved new anti-tampering rules and guidelines. The league is looking to crack down on free agent tampering and his instituted harsher penalties for teams that violate those policies, including potential fines worth up to $10MM.

New Nets owner Joe Tsai was unanimously approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Tsai has now officially assumed control of the franchise from Mikhail Prokhorov. He has also named a new CEO, installing former Turner executive David Levy in that position.

Isaiah Thomas will miss approximately six to eight weeks due to a thumb injury. The Wizards announced this week that their newly-signed point guard underwent surgery to repair a ruptured ligament. Thomas isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

The Magic exercised their 2020/21 team option on Markelle Fultz. The former No. 1 overall pick has yet to play a game for Orlando, but the team was willing to guarantee his $12.3MM salary for ’20/21. The Magic also picked up rookie scale options on Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson expressed a desire to play in the 2020 Olympics. After Team USA’s disappointing World Cup showing, a handful of stars are showing interest in playing in Tokyo next year. Damian Lillard also said he’d like to participate.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from the past week:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Kennard, J. Johnson, Final Roster Spot

With free agency possibly looming next summer, Pistons center Andre Drummond has put a priority on conditioning, relays Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Coach Dwane Casey said Drummond has spent the offseason working out with assistants Tim Grgurich and Sean Sweeney two or three times a day in Las Vegas and is “in the best shape since I’ve been around him.”

After this season ends, Drummond will have a decision to make on a $28,751,774 player option for 2020/21. He recently came under fire from fans for talking about how excited he is for a shot at free agency and had to clarify his remarks on Instagram. Casey decided in the second half of last season to shelve the experiment of having Drummond shoot more 3-pointers, but he still believes his center can be effective as a decision maker in the offense.

There’s more today from Detroit:

  • One of Casey’s training camp decisions will be whether to use Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard in the starting lineup, the coach tells Langlois in a separate story. “The issue with Luke in the first unit – it’s not an issue, it’s a good thing – but it’s just you kind of take away one of his strengths as far as his pick-and-roll game, his ballhandling game,” Casey said. “There’s only so many pick-and-roll games with that first unit. You’ve got Blake (Griffin) in the pick and roll, Reggie (Jackson) in the pick and roll, you’ve got Bruce running pick and roll some and now you’ve got Andre bringing the ball down the floor.”
  • Joe Johnson‘s new contract comes with a $220K guarantee and more incentives the longer he stays on the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Johnson’s guaranteed money will increase to $1.37MM if he earns a roster spot for opening night and $2.56MM if he remains on the team through January 7.
  • The Pistons have several options for the final spot on their roster heading into camp, observes Duncan Smith of Forbes. Detroit has 14 guaranteed contracts, leaving Johnson, Khyri Thomas and Christian Wood as the most likely candidates outside of that group to make the team, according to Smith. He adds that the front office could consider opening another spot by waiving Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who has a minimum contract, or trading Langston Galloway. who has an expiring deal worth $7.3MM.

Heat Notes: Roster, Nunn, Adebayo, Mulder

Because of hard-cap restrictions, Miami’s training camp roster is virtually set now that Daryl Macon has been signed to the 20th spot, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The Heat can’t exceed a $138.9MM salary limit, and they are so close to that figure that they can’t offer players like Macon more than an Exhibit 10 contract. As things currently stand, Miami will be limited to 14 players on its final roster, with the remaining six battling for a pair of two-way contracts.

The only way to create some flexibility would be to waive Kendrick Nunn, who has just a $150K guarantee on his $1,416,852 salary. However, Winderman doesn’t expect that to happen because the rookie guard showed promise in Summer League and the front office can’t afford to waste $150K. Miami can’t convert Nunn’s contract to a two-way deal without first waiving him and taking the chance that he might be claimed by another team.

There’s more from Miami:

  •  At 22, Bam Adebayo has most of his career ahead of him, but he already feels like a “Heat Lifer” after the team picked up the fourth-year option on his rookie-scale contract, relays Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo became the first player from the 2017 draft class to earn that distinction, as Miami made it official more than a month ahead of the October 31 deadline. “They’re pushing me to be more of a leader,” Adebayo said. “So, yeah, I do feel like I’ve become a Heat Lifer type of guy and just being more involved and having like a (Udonis Haslem) responsibility when it comes to my teammates.”
  • Team USA won’t have many good memories from this year’s World Cup, but Adebayo believes he benefited from his experience as part of the Select Team in Las Vegas, Chiang adds. “Just the atmosphere, because everybody that comes from different teams are like No. 1 or No. 2 options,” Adebayo explained. “So just being out there with a lot of guys and just hearing the stories from the locker room, their perspective and just sharing mine. It’s just like a cool ordeal.”
  • Mychal Mulder, who signed with the Heat earlier this week, was named to the G League Elite Roster for the 2019 NBA G League International Challenge in Uruguay, Winderman tweets. However, he skipped the event to focus on training camp.

Warriors Notes: Bowman, Thompson, Dunleavy Jr., Rookies

Rookie Ky Bowman is thrilled to have an opportunity with the Warriors after being passed over on draft night, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Bowman signed a two-way deal in July and is hoping to work his way into a standard contract.

“It all starts with being undrafted, knowing I got a lot more to prove to the teams that didn’t draft me and to show the kids back home that you can make it if you put your faith and your work into it,” he said. “I’ve just been praying and working every day and every night, being in the gym on nights that people (hang out). It was a commitment to myself to be successful.”

Bowman had a rough introduction to the league as part of the Warriors’ Summer League team, averaging 2.3 PPG and shooting just 22% from the floor in four games. He said he has learned a lot more during offseason workouts with his new teammates.

“A lot of people don’t get here, it still doesn’t feel real, but it’s an honor to get here,” Bowman said. “I’m trying to embrace every moment, trying to pick up things from the guys who are here. Even when I am guarding Stephen Curry), learning different moves that he’s doing, things I’m trying to work on to become as good as a player.”

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Two knee specialists believe Klay Thompson is taking a significant risk by planning to play this season, relays Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Dr. Tim Hewett, a who has studied the biomechanics of the knee for the Mayo Clinic and served as director of Ohio State’s Sports Health and Performance Institute, and Dr. Christopher Nagelli of the Mayo Clinic presented a paper recently suggesting that athletes with ACL tears should rest for two full years. “Please do share that with Klay,” Hewett said. “… People don’t like to hear it but it does not change the facts, and that facts are that you’re at risk for re-injury before two years and you won’t be the same player in the first year.”
  • Former Warriors player Mike Dunleavy Jr. is rising in influence as the team’s assistant GM, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Dunleavy had served as Golden State’s Eastern scout since 2017 and watched D’Angelo Russell in person more than anyone else in the organization. He played a key role in finalizing a sign-and-trade once GM Bob Myers learned that Kevin Durant was joining the Nets.
  • NBA.com takes a look at the Warriors‘ three draft picks, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagić, and what they might be able to contribute this season.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 9/14/19 – 9/21/19

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our original segments and features from the past seven days:

John Wall On Torn Achilles Recovery: ‘Taking Baby Steps’

Wizards point guard John Wall, in the midst of recovering from a torn Achilles, is making some strides in his recovery.

“I’m great, man. Just rehabbing, working out and lifting weights. I’m shooting some jumpshots, doing some ball-handling and stuff like that,” Wall said to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Wall, 29, suffered the injury this past January during a fall at his home as he was recovering from a heel injury. Given Washington’s lofty financial commitment to the five-time All-Star, it’s uncertain how much he will be able to contribute when he’s healthy.

At his peak, Wall has shown himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Just last season, he averaged 20.7 PPG and 8.1 APG in 32 contests before the injuries set in.

However, at this point, Wall is taking a conservative approach in his recovery so he does not end up re-injuring himself more.

“I understand because I’ve played through injuries before that if I try to come back too soon or too fast, I could be hurt and have to start all over again. I’m not trying to go through that process again, so I’m finally taking my baby steps,” he said.

New York Notes: Knox, Fizdale, Nets Signings, G League

The Knicks enter the upcoming season with a roster filled with young players and a mix of veterans on one-year deals. It remains to be seen how the roster shakes out but one of those youngsters, Kevin Knox, is excited about how early practices have gone.

Speaking at a recent event, Knox praised the team’s current group and how competitive everyone has been, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“Very competitive practices so far,’’ Knox said. “You can tell all the guys are hungry and looking forward to training camp. A lot of guys have been impressive. You can tell a lot of guys have been working on their games all summer. I watched a lot those guys playing on TV last year. Everyone’s game has gotten a lot better. I can’t wait to get to training camp and jell together.”

Knox mentioned that head coach David Fizdale has mentioned that no starting spots are locked up at this point in time. Thus, competitive battles for playing time figure to persist.

Check out more notes on the New York squads:

  • While the Knicks did not land a superstar free agent, Knox noted that seeing their crosstown rival Nets do so is adding fuel to the team’s fire, writes Newsday’s Steve Popper. “You’ve got people always saying the Knicks and the Nets,” Knox said. “Of course they got two superstars. That’s just fuel to the fire for us. Like [coach David Fizdale] told us all in a group message, put your head down and just go out and play hard for one another. That’s kind of been our motto this whole summer.”
  • Entering the season, there are a lot of pressing question on how the Knicks will approach their aforementioned roster. The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov examines seven burning questions on the upcoming season, including the development of their young players.
  • The Nets’ G League affiliate Long Island Nets announced a series of staff hires for the team, per a press release.

2019 Offseason In Review: Dallas Mavericks

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Dallas Mavericks.

Signings:

  • Standard contracts:
    • Kristaps Porzingis: Five years, maximum salary ($158.25MM). Fifth-year player option. Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Maxi Kleber: Four years, $34MM. Includes incentives. Fourth year not fully guaranteed. Re-signed using Early Bird rights.
    • Seth Curry: Four years, $32MM. Signed using mid-level exception.
    • Delon Wright: Three years, $27MM. Includes incentives. Acquired via sign-and-trade using trade exception.
    • Dorian Finney-Smith: Three years, $12MM. Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Boban Marjanovic: Two years, $7MM. Signed using bi-annual exception.
    • J.J. Barea: One year, minimum salary. Re-signed using Bird rights.
  • Two-way contracts:
  • Non-guaranteed camp contracts:

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Isaiah Roby (No. 45 pick), the Jazz’s 2020 second-round pick, and the Trail Blazers’ 2021 second-round pick from the Pistons in exchange for the draft rights to Deividas Sirvydis (No. 37 pick).
  • Acquired Delon Wright in a sign-and-trade from the Grizzlies in exchange for the draft rights to Satnam Singh, the Trail Blazers’ 2021 second-round pick, and either the Mavericks’ or Heat’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is less favorable).

Draft picks:

  • 2-45: Isaiah Roby — Signed to four-year, $6.73MM contract. Third year non-guaranteed. Fourth-year team option. Signed using mid-level exception.

Waiver claims:

  • Aric Holman (from Lakers). One year, minimum salary contract (Exhibit 10). Claimed using minimum salary exception.

Contract extensions:

  • Dwight Powell: Three years, $33.24MM. Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2022/23.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Hired Jason Terry as assistant GM of Texas Legends.
  • Mark Cuban fined $50K for leaking information from NBA’s Board of Governors meeting.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $120.39MM in salary.
  • Hard-capped.
  • $297K of mid-level exception still available ($8.96MM used on Seth Curry and Isaiah Roby).
  • $123K of bi-annual exception still available ($3.5MM used on Boban Marjanovic).
  • $11.83MM traded player exception available (expires 2/7/20).

Story of the summer:

The 2019 offeason was similar to most other recent offseasons in Dallas for one key reason: The Mavericks entered free agency armed with enough cap room to sign a maximum-salary player, but struck out on their top target(s).

Nikola Vucevic and Al Horford were among the players cited as possible options for the Mavericks. But it was Horford’s decision to opt out and become a free agent in the first place that actually indirectly cost the team its presumed No. 1 target. With Horford and Kyrie Irving leaving Boston, the Celtics suddenly had the cap flexibility to box out the Mavs in the Kemba Walker sweepstakes. Team owner Mark Cuban acknowledged in mid-July that his team had been eyeing Walker and had to “adjust” when the C’s snatched him up.

Still, while there was nothing new about the Mavs missing out on their preferred veteran star in free agency, there was one important difference this time around — the franchise had already acquired a potential cornerstone in a trade earlier in the year. And since Kristaps Porzingis was a restricted free agent, Dallas had no problem locking him up to a five-year, maximum-salary contract.

While the Mavs certainly would’ve liked to add a veteran All-Star like Walker to the mix to form a Big Three with up-and-coming stars Porzingis and Luka Doncic, they’ll have more opportunities to go that route. Doncic won’t get a huge raise until 2022, and the club should have major cap flexibility again in 2021. By that time, perhaps the allure of joining Porzingis and Doncic will strengthen the Mavs’ position in free agency, allowing them to secure the big fish that has eluded them in recent years.

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