Rockets fined $150,000 for Dwight Howard comments during free agent moratorium

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Houston Rockets broke NBA moratorium rules by speaking publicly about center Dwight Howard.

The NBA has fined the Houston Rockets $150,000 for "team personnel" speaking publicly about free agent center Dwight Howard during the restricted, nine-day moratorium, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

That means no public comments until players can officially sign on July 10. Both general manager Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale have been quoted in stories since the agreement with Howard was reached.

ESPN quoted McHale discussing his expectations of Howard playing for the Rockets. CSN Houston did an interview with Morey as July 10 approached.

Howard came to an agreement with the Rockets to sign a four-year, $88 million contract July 5 after meeting with the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Teams and players officially could not speak with one another about free agency until the beginning of July.

The league has been known to take public comments about other teams' players quite seriously. This is the second time Howard has been the cause for such a fine.

In June, the NBA fined the Atlanta Hawks, Rockets and an unnamed third team.

Houston was reportedly fined in June for writing free agent scouting profiles on the team website. The Hawks' case was public because the marketing department sent an email blast to season-tickerholders to promote next season's team -- one that could include Howard and fellow free agent Chris Paul.

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