While the news may be surprising for fans of the other two teams, supporters of the Hawks likely saw this coming. After a member of the club's ticket-sales department mentioned the names of Dwight Howard and Chris Paul -- likely targets of the team in free agency -- in an email to season-ticket holders, speculation immediately pointed towards the franchise getting hit with tampering charges.
Because Howard and Paul are still technically members of their current teams until free agency begins next month, any statements involving such players breaks the rules. A league memo obtained by the reporters explains the violations:
"The conduct at issue involved statements by a team employee to the media, a team email to prospective season ticket purchasers, and articles posted online on a team website, each related to players who are currently under contract to other teams but who will become free agents this summer.
The Hawks, clearly, are the second team mentioned.
Responding to the report, the franchise sent a brief statement to the outlet providing confirmation: "We fully understand and respect the NBA's decision."
It's unclear how much the unfortunate email will cost Atlanta.