Three NBA teams were fined on Monday for tampering, the league said on Monday.
The league, who did not disclose what teams were penalized or what the penalty was, sent a memo to all 30 NBA teams announcing the tampering charges.
“The conduct at issue involved statements by a team employee to the media, a team email to prospective season ticket purchases, and articles posted online on a team website, each related to players who are currently under contract to other teams but who will become free agents this summer,” according to the memo from the NBA.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Hawks were one of the three teams that were penalized. In a statement, the Hawks said that they “fully understand and respect the NBA’s decision.” According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Houston Rockets were one of the other teams that were fined for tampering.
The third team that was penalized is still unknown.
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For the Hawks, the offense most likely occurred in an email to season-ticket holders that referred to Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Lakers center Dwight Howard as possible additions to the team.
“The buzz around our off-season is more than heating up. With massive cap space, four draft picks and free agency rapidly approaching, we sit in the best position in the NBA,” said the email, which had the headline “Hot New Player News” and was written on team letterhead. “Player interest is skyrocketing as the possibilities of landing Chris Paul and Dwight Howard become more and more of a reality.”
Hawks President Bob Williams issued a statement last week about the email, saying it was written by “one of our season-ticket reps of his own volition.”
According to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement and Article 35A of the NBA Constitution, the league defines tampering as “when a player or a team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades anyone under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services.”
Penalties for tampering include fines, a suspension for the offending person, the team being banned from signing the player that was tampered with, a loss of draft picks and individual or team fines up to $5 million.
In 2010, at the height of the LeBron James free-agent sweepstakes, the NBA levied fines against Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon ($25,000) and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban ($100,000) for making comments about James before the free-agent period began.