NBA to up fines for teams' illicit deals

LOS ANGELES • National Basketball Association (NBA) teams could be fined up to US$10 million (S$13.7 million) for tampering and up to US$6 million for entering into unauthorised agreements with players, a person with knowledge of the league's plans told The Associated Press on Saturday night.

Other maximum-fine levels could be raised significantly as well, provided the league's board of governors approves the measures on Friday.

The league sent a memo to teams last Friday detailing the proposed fines, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details were not to be released publicly.

The memo addresses what the NBA called a "widespread perception that many of the league's rules are being broken on a frequent basis" when it comes to tampering, salary cap matters and the timing of free-agency discussions.

Things came to a head last season when the New Orleans Pelicans feuded with the Los Angeles Lakers over the tampering of Anthony Davis, with the All-Star eventually getting his move in the summer.

So the league wants to hit rule-breakers where it hurts most - the cheque book, and possibly beyond, and they want fines raised in part to reflect the 600 per cent jump in league revenue and the 1,100 per cent surge in franchise value since the fine ceilings were last reviewed in 1996.

In addition, teams will have to require its governor, top basketball operations executive and negotiators to certify annually that they did not talk to free agents or their representatives before the league rules allow.

With every player deal signed, each team's governor will have to certify that no unauthorised benefits were offered and no rules were broken.

"It's pointless, at the end of the day, to have rules that we can't enforce," commissioner Adam Silver said in July after the board of governors met to talk about ensuring fairness, after several free-agent deals were struck before the negotiating period started on June 30.

The NBA has, however, been largely powerless to stop the practice, which has gone on for years, and seemed to be particularly out of control this summer - in the first 90 minutes of free agency, at least US$1.4 billion in contracts were inked.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2019, with the headline 'NBA to up fines for teams' illicit deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe