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Nets Could Reportedly Be Punished For Actions Of Kyrie Irving And Kevin Durant During Free Agency

(via Wall Street Journal)

(via Wall Street Journal)

This summer has headlined by the movement of stars and formation of contenders. The Nets were one of the most impacted teams of the summer after signing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to max deals in just the first few days of the NBA free agency period.

Apparently, things might have moved a little too quick for them.

The NBA recently began an investigation (after "complaints" by league owners) about the nature of this summer's free agency. At the league’s annual board of governors meetings this month in Las Vegas, concerns were raised about the copious amount of deals already done within hours of the start of free agency.

Unfortunately for Brooklyn, news of their star signings was actually announced before free agency opened at 6 p.m. on June 30 -- a move that could come back to haunt them.

(via Brian Lewis of The New York Post)

With more than a billion dollars in contracts agreed to in the first 24 hours of free agency, it does strain credulity to think tampering rules weren’t violated. But historically those rules aren’t strictly enforced unless something is brazenly said in the open, or unless a team lodges a complaint. Those complaints are anonymous.

The Nets landing Irving had been a fait accompli long before free agency even started. The Post had been reporting that Irving, who grew up a New Jersey Nets fan in West Orange, N.J., was leaning toward signing with his childhood team.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie — who played a huge role in artfully recruiting Irving to Brooklyn — told The Athletic this week that the All-Star told him in December that “New York is gonna be fun this time next year.”

According to Lewis, the NBA is looking to enforce their tampering rules and could actually punish the Nets (or any other team they find guilty) for breaking them.

All this brought on an investigation. Though the scope and specific teams of that investigation are unclear, ESPN reported it will probably focus on some of those earliest-reported deals.

Teams aren’t allowed to tamper with players under contract with other clubs. Violators can be fined or stripped of draft picks. The NBA even can void contracts. The Lakers were fined $500,000 for contacting George’s agent in 2017. And following complaints from small-market teams, the league sent an anti-tampering memo after LeBron James publicly said in December he wanted to play with Anthony Davis, who eventually ended up traded to the Lakers.

Tampering violations have been hard to track over the years because of so many uncontrollable factors. But, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated in his annual summer league press conference, “it’s pointless, at the end of the day, to have rules that we can’t enforce."

If there really was no tampering involved, how come it was nearly a foregone conclusion that both Kyrie and KD would end up with Brooklyn literally weeks before the start of free agency? How come Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard were orchestrating their move so close to the June 30th starting date?

It seems all too likely that teams are just working around these tampering rules, and the league could come hard on them for doing so. Considering the nature of their own process, the Nets (among others) are right in the crosshairs of this investigation and could potentially face some serious consequences if found guilty.