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The NBA tampering is coming from inside the house!

We have that and more in Thursday’s NBA newsletter.

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

The people who run the NBA — that is, the 30 controlling investment partners of the 30 NBA franchises — are mad as hell about all the apparent tampering that preceded the 2019 free agency period. Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst of ESPN report that during a tense Board of Governors meeting, there was a lot of discussion about investigations and the need for tougher rules.

This is hilarious because THE KILLER IS INSIDE THE HOUSE.

The teams guilty of tampering and reaching deals early are right there in that same meeting. There very well might be a few teams that go by the book and don’t talk to agents about free agents before June 30. The people running those teams are bad at their jobs. The NBA has telegraphed its disinterest in regulating pretty much anything that happens after the NBA Finals and especially the NBA Draft, with the exception of monitoring on-the-record comments by powerful team officials. The NBA league office rightly recognizes that actually monitoring and enforcing tampering rules to prevent deals from getting agreed upon and leaked before free agency begins — like Kemba Walker to Boston, like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to Brooklyn — is a fool’s errand, so they don’t do it. They issue fines a) to the Lakers, as frequently as possible and b) when a general manager or governor goes on the record to talk about some other team’s player. That’s it.

If you aren’t trying to cut deals with impending free agents in mid-June, you aren’t doing your job or your team is not attractive enough to land free agents. Complaining about other teams’ success is attracting those free agents, even early, is really just sour grapes.

The proof is in the high-powered franchisees’ apparent disinterest in tougher investigatory powers by the league office — Lowe and Windhorst reveal the NBA’s top lawyer suggested the league could enforce rules strictly, but that would mean seizing cell phone records and the like. Shockingly, governors seemed to back off their calls for blood. Gee, wonder why.


Tampering rules are absolutely useless in today’s NBA except to provide timely entertainment value. By all means, governors, crack down on yourselves. I’ll go get some more popcorn.

Global recession

I wrote about Team USA’s star depletion on Monday, and it’s gotten progressively worse since then. We’re now down to Walker as the only All-NBA player from last season on the squad, and Donovan Mitchell as probably the second-best player on the team. Even Kevin Love has opted out.

Reminder: the United States has to finish first or second among the seven Western Hemisphere teams to get an automatic qualification for the 2020 Olympics. Otherwise, they have to participate in an early summer last-gasp tournament next summer just to get to Tokyo, which is a nightmare scenario logistically.

One imagines that FIBA the entity hates this attrition while the other national teams are licking their chops for a chance to knock off the mighty Americans and perhaps win FIBA gold. But hey, they finally found a way to get American basketball fans to really care about the World Cup. Success?


Kawhi Leonard and Paul George finally had their introduction to the LA media, and it was rather notable. Pretty fascinating accounting of how the Clippers landed Kawhi as told by Kawhi himself. He also rejects the notion he led the Lakers on to purposely sabotage them, saying he doesn’t want that bad karma. Kawhi also absolved Magic Johnson of blame regarding his leaks. What a benevolent man!

Five ways to fix Team USA before the FIBA World Cup, starring the only acceptable idea: bring back Carmelo Anthony.

Illuminating comments from Kings assistant coach Lindsay Harding, who said players have been really receptive to the presence of women on team staffs, and that it’s only fear on the part of those hiring for jobs that has held women back.

Kelly Dwyer tells a story only he can about Dennis Rodman’s wildest basketball weekend.

Zion Williamson has the biggest rookie sneaker deal ever ... with Jordan Brand.

Chris Murch on Ryan Hollins’ emerging persona as a hot take martyr. My take: HOLLINS TIPPED THE BALL.

The sportsbooks’ win totals are out.

Interesting takes from people around the NBA in Tim Bontemps’ survey of 20 scouts, executives, and coaches on what happened in free agency.

Tremendous idea by Paolo Uggeti: talk to Kyle Guy, who went from Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four to a late second-round pick with no money.

Kings governor Vivek Ranadive on how listening to the Apollo 11 moon landing on the radio set him on a path to America and eventually the NBA.

Jayson Tatum is spending his summer trying to break his midrange addiction.

One of my top five favorite Sacramento Kings ever, Donte Greene, on life after the NBA.

Be excellent to each other.