The NBA continues to try and enforce the tampering rule. The latest possible offender: the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday night, the NBA has “opened an investigation” examining the possibility that the 76ers made early contact and possibly tampered when agreeing to deals with free agents James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr.
NBA's expected to pursue circumstances surrounding Harden declining $47M option to sign a 1+1 deal that cut salary to $33M and gave team more flexibility to sign Tucker and House. Some have wondered if another deal was already in place for future -- which is against CBA rules.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2022
According to Wojnarowksi, the crux of the investigation centers on Harden declining his then-$47 million player option in order to sign a more team friendly $33 million deal.
That pay cut enabled Philadelphia to sign both Tucker — one of the more desired 3-and-D players in the NBA — and House in free agency.
If Harden’s new deal was agreed upon prior to June 30, and if either Tucker or House communicated with Philadelphia before free agency opened, then the 76ers would in violation of the CBA.
Th NBA has tried to crack down on tampering in recent years. Most recently, the league penalized the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls for rules violations during their negotiations with Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, respectively, in free agency in 2021.
Both teams forfeited a second round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.