Report: NBA Investigating Tampering on Some of Earliest 2019 Free-Agent Signings

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2019

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver arrives at the NBA Awards on Monday, June 24, 2019, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Richard Shotwell/Associated Press

The NBA is reportedly investigating whether teams tampered in order to secure some of the earliest free-agent signings this offseason.

According to ESPN's Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst, the investigation began after the NBA's Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas this month. The investigation is reportedly expected to include interviews with "players and possibly agents and team employees."

Charlotte Hornets owner and labor committee head Michael Jordan mentioned the possibility of changing the free-agency rules in the next collective bargaining agreement in what was described as a "tense" owners meeting.

Teams were permitted to begin speaking with free agents on June 30 at 6 p.m. ET, and the moratorium was lifted July 6, which was the date on which signings could become official.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly encouraged owners to express any concerns they had with the free-agency process, which led to several suggestions for how it can be improved.

Per Lowe and Windhorst, the possibility of allowing teams to begin speaking with free agents immediately upon the conclusion of the NBA Finals was brought up. In that scenario, there would likely still be a moratorium that would prevent players from officially signing until after the NBA draft.

Another proposal would see free agency conclude prior to the draft, meaning players would be officially signed beforehand.

That change was proposed by the Houston Rockets last year, but only 10 of the NBA's 30 teams supported it when polled this month. Lowe and Windhorst noted that several teams responded that they "did not care either way."

This offseason was among the wildest in NBA history, as it saw Kawhi Leonard sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sign with the Brooklyn Nets, and the likes of Anthony Davis, Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul get traded.

While moving the moratorium back to a time closer to the NBA Finals could be a good idea in theory, there will likely always be teams looking to get a competitive advantage regardless of when they can legally start speaking with free agents.

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