On Friday, the NBA’s board of governors unanimously voted to crack down on tampering by teams regarding free agents, as well as salary-cap circumvention. By enforcing stricter guidelines, the league is attempting to further level the playing field for each franchise and will implement harsher penalties for violations. The rule changes come in the wake of last summer’s free agency period. It appeared that many deals were struck with high-level free agents prior to the June 30th, 6:01 PM ET official start time.
According to ESPN, NBA commissioner David Silver says, “Certainly the provisions passed unanimously, and there was a strong view, I think, of every single person in the room that we need to ensure that we’re creating a culture of compliance in this league and that our teams want to know that they’re competing on a level playing field, and frankly don’t want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.”
Silver further adds, “The ultimate goal here is to ensure compliance and to ensure that there’s that appropriate tension that exists at the team. So there is sort of a significant threat that if a team doesn’t comply, that there will be consequences.” – via ESPN
The rule changes implemented are as follows:
- Increasing the maximum fine amount to $10 million
- Top team officials are required to save communications with agents for one year
- The annual, random auditing of five teams’ communications with rival front offices and player agents, along with the league having the mandate that it can “undertake more in-depth investigations … where cause exists
The changes are a direct attempt to real in front offices and diverge further into their recruiting practices regarding top-free agents. Many of the teams are concerned the rule provisions are a direct violation of their team’s privacy rights. However, the major peace the NBA is missing is the player-to-player recruiting aspect of the problem. It’s impossible to restrict the players who are acting as the real front-office executives, because all the dirty work is done when the cameras aren’t looking.
LeBron James is single-handedly responsible for the current state of the NBA and it’s “buddy-ball” theme. Deemed the greatest player of his generation, James started the trend of building friendships with other stars around the league back during his Miami heydays. Since then, the rest of the league’s stars have jumped on the band-wagon in attempts to compete for league supremacy and championships.
Opposing players are no longer rivals. Instead, they spend summers together vacationing with their families and training together for the upcoming season. They exchange text-messages regularly and engage in conversations that become public spectacles after games, which displays these stars exchanging dialogue while covering their mouths. Sometimes, they even wind up eating dinner together after games. Finally, how are you supposed to reign in these discussions while the players practice and compete together annually on All-Star teams and during Team USA summer workouts?
The real problems exists in the fact these players aren’t willing to compete against the best, but instead want to team up with the best. The league is forever-changing with roster movement. Yet, the only franchises gaining traction and competing for championships are the ones where cap-space is cleared for these various player “cliques” to team up and dominate lesser teams in smaller markets.
Michael Jordan and the rest of the hard-nosed generation basketball players revolutionized the game, allowing for a legacy of ultimate competition which was spread across the NBA. Now, with this millennial generation of league stars it can be said that most of the league is watered down and that the most competitive teams are determined every year during free-agency before ever hitting the court. Ultimately, it leaves a legacy of soft-players taking the easy route trying to sub-plant “His Airness” and gain traction in the conversation for G.O.A.T (greatest of all time). However, their measure will forever falter, due simply to the fact that greatness is only achieved through struggle and perseverance.
Header Photo Credit: SB Nation