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Atlanta Hawks Staring at Huge Fine for Tampering

Re-signing Chris Paul is priority No. 1 for the Clippers this summer.

Re-signing Chris Paul is priority No. 1 for the Clippers this summer. Apparently it is also high on the Atlanta Hawks list too.

The Atlanta Hawks have run afoul (or a fowl) of the NBA offices for tampering. They sent letter out to season ticket holders, assuring them every effort was being made to clear cap space so they can fully pursue free agents Dwight Howard (an Atlanta native) and Chris Paul.

“What’s the big deal?” you may be asking. “What’s wrong with sending a letter out to you ticket buying public, making them aware that you are trying to build a winner?” Well, there are a couple of things wrong with this. If there were no tampering rules, then what’s to stop teams from being in a constant state of recruitment? Imagine everywhere Lebron James plays on the road, even if he is under contract for two or three more seasons, teams were putting on a full-court press to sign him. So common sense dictates that teams should not be allowed to recruit other team’s players while still under contract.  Otherwise, it would be like high school. We’d have scout.com, rivals.com, ESPN and company with a page for NBA players and what teams they are leaning towards.

So if there are going to be “hands off” rules, then there needs to be a date in which it is now okay to court free agents. Until that day,it is taboo. That day is July 1. That seems to be a fair date. The NBA Finals are over by then. You don’t have a situation like in 2007 when the Kentucky Wildcats were openly trying to hire coach Billy Donovan away from the Florida Gators while he was taking his team to the Final Four. So if that is the date, then the penalties for violating that day must be severe. If speeding tickets were $10.00, then everyone would be driving as fast as their cars will go. Even at well over $200.00, many still speed. A $10,000.00 fine for this will not send the right message. This fine needs to be in the millions of dollars. And since they mentioned two players, the fine needs to be doubled.

“But, do the rules need to be so strict?” you may ask. “They didn’t even contact the players or their agents.” That is for deciding the fine. Of course, contacting an agent on the players behalf or speaking to the player should get a larger fine than just mentioning the player’s name. The rules have to be clear cut. If it is hands off, then that means no talking to or even about the player.That way, there is no gray area.

“But”, you may ask, if the player is no longer under contract, “then why is he still off-limits?” What if the Los Angeles Lakers were playing in the NBA Finals? Would it be fair for other players to shop around while Howard has to wait until the series is over? These rules are in place to keep everyone, the player, the team, his current team, on a level playing field. If you break those rules, however silly they may look, then you must pay. So the Hawks should be fined an amount that will now make it difficult to sign both Paul and Howard.



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