Beck On NBA Tampering: "Teams Find Loopholes"

The NBA might not like it, but the "Wild West" nature of tampering will likely continue, Howard Beck says

Tiki and Tierney
July 25, 2019 - 10:23 am
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After a free-agency frenzy completely altered the NBA landscape in a matter of days, owners can only assume that tampering occurred early and often this past season.

Even if it did, though, what can owners actually do about it?

“Players can’t tamper with other players. These guys are free to talk to each other, and that’s not something that (the NBA) can or wanted to try to police,” Bleacher Report senior NBA writer Howard Beck said on Tiki & Tierney. “But when it comes to teams, if you’re a GM, you’re not supposed to be asking the agent for a player who’s a coming free agent about playing for you until free agency. But teams find loopholes.”

The Lakers, for example, signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal in 2017. Caldwell-Pope had a lot going for him than just his skillset.

“I’m not saying this is what exactly happened,” Beck said, “but people were certain around the league that when the Lakers signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a couple summers ago, it was because he was a Rich Paul client and that then allowed them to have conversations with Rich Paul because he represents one of their players – and in the course of that conversation, ‘By the way, does LeBron want to come here? Let’s start planning.’ 

“You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody in the league who doesn’t think that was the reason they established that relationship and signed that player,” Beck continued. “That does cross the line, if it happened that way, but again, because it’s now murky, it’s harder for the league to police. This is the problem.”

If owners want to crack down on tampering, they would likely have to require executives and agents to turn over their cell phones and computer servers for review.

"That’s what it would take to actually prove tampering,” Beck said. “If they had the cell phones and servers, they probably would prove a whole lot of tampering, but no one wants to go there. So they either have to decide amongst themselves, the owners, that we all want to get this under control and reel this thing back, or it’s just going to continue like this as if it’s the Wild West.”