According to ESPN's Marc Stein, that's the amount the NBA has fined Houston for making public comments on Howard during the league's moratorium period:
ESPN has learned Houston Rockets just fined $150,000 for unauthorized public comments on Dwight Howard while NBA's annual moratorium ongoing— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2013
The NBA free-agency period opens July 1, but the league undergoes a moratorium on trades and free-agent signings until July 10. During that period, teams are allowed to negotiate with free agents and speak among one another for trade purposes, but they are not permitted to make public comments.
That moratorium is the overarching reason why the Brooklyn Nets have not formally introduced Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett after acquiring the two players as part of a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics, for instance. Agreements are considered only in principle until the moratorium period ends, thus rendering teams unable to comment on the matter until they are approved by the league office.
Morey has mentioned Howard multiple times through his own tweets, retweeted columns about him heading to Houston and sent out a plea from The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons during the moratorium. The Rockets general manager even posted a video on YouTube of his children pleading for the All-Star center to come to Houston.
He also spoke with CSN Houston's Howard Chen about Howard's decision, which again violated the moratorium agreement:
There might have been a little screaming, a little whooping. I was pretty excited because there was so much work by so many people in the Rockets' organization and so much work from Dwight Howard to put himself in the position that he earned to be a free agent and pick the best chance for him. It's a special moment. We haven't accomplished anything yet, but we're putting something pretty cool together.
Notice that the Rockets' Twitter feed has made no mention of Howard before or after his signing. Once the moratorium ends, though, expect that to change almost instantly.
Is the NBA's fine of the Houston Rockets fair or foul?
David Stern rarely steps into six-figure territory with fines. Since 2003, only five teams have even reached the $150,000 plateau total, according to Andrew Powell-Morse of Sheridan Hoops. The largest team fine in NBA history was $3.5 million, given to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2000 for circumventing the league's salary cap to pay Joe Smith.
Nevertheless, it's a small price to pay for Houston landing the biggest fish on the open market. Landing Howard following a year of courting him, being rebuffed and then creating a team strong enough for him to leave the Los Angeles Lakers had to create a sense of triumph in the Rockets' front office.
Morey took the time to celebrate that triumph. Now, it's just going to come out of owner Leslie Alexander's pocket.
Neither the NBA nor the Rockets have commented on Stein's report at this time.
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