Rockets Reportedly Fined $150K for Comments on Dwight Howard During Moratorium

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2013

Add another $150,000 to the $88 million the Houston Rockets will be paying for Dwight Howard's services.

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:

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.     

Since Howard made his decision to sign a four-year, $88 million deal with the Rockets on Friday, the team has broken that code of silence multiple times. In particular, Houston General Manager Daryl Morey has made multiple public comments—both on his Twitter feed and to media—after the offseason's most prized target informed Houston he was headed there.

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.

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 HoopsThe 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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