Will stricter tampering rules change anything?

Will stricter tampering rules change anything?

After one the wildest summers in NBA history, the NBA Board of Governors voted in new and strengthened existing rules to police tampering in the NBA. This wasn’t the first summer that players signed contracts a minute after free agency started, but it seems we’ve reached a tipping point and the league said ‘enough’.

Never have so many big-name stars sign a minute into free agency, and we had multiple reports of agents asking for things that would represent clear violations of the salary cap. It got ridiculous and Adam Silver finally accept that the emperor is naked. 

The changes give the league more tools to monitor team activities and have the possibility of stricter punishments in case someone is caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The new provisions include:

• The annual, random auditing of five teams’ communications with rival front offices and player agents, along with the league having the mandate that it can “undertake more in-depth investigations … where cause exists”;
• Increasing the maximum fine amount to $10 million;
• Top team officials are required to save communications with agents for one year.

These obviously raise concerns. Nobody wants other people snooping through their phone or emails – we all say things in private that we wouldn’t express the same way in public. If the league goes through someone’s communication to make sure there was no tampering with player X and finds other eyebrow-raising stuff – what then? Here’s how commissioner Silver sees it (via ESPN):

As I said, I understand it, that none of us want people looking into our private affairs. I think part of the discussion, of course, went to what the scope of any investigation should be. I am not interested in looking in any aspects of people’s lives outside of what is relevant to the operation of their teams unless of course there is an issue that requires that we look into something outside the scope of what we’re addressing here.

So if they are checking if there was tampering, and find racist comments – that would be an issue that requires attention even though it wasn’t the primary goal of the investigation. But what if it’s a joke made in poor taste? We have different levels of political correctness – who decides what is too much?

The other challenge is still going to be enforcing rules. GM’s can just get a third phone, a fourth email account, etc. This still raises the question of whether the league is trying to control something that’s not controllable. 

This may just be a signal to teams that they should be smarter, maybe not sign contracts a minute in free agency and put the league in a position where they have to pull the trigger. This can’t be stopped, but it doesn’t have to be so public.