NBA free agents are reportedly already agreeing to deals.
And apparently not just a few.
Free agency has essentially already stared. As I have talked to executives, there is an incredible amount of chatter. Contracts are essentially being quasi-tendered. Definitely, players’ agents are communicating to teams what they want in contracts. And I’ve even heard of players who are – guys who are extension-eligible who could be traded – who have already communicated to teams that might trade for them what their price is for their extension. So, not only is there a bunch of trade talks, contracts are flying out there.
Free agency won’t officially open until after the draft, which is scheduled for Nov. 18. But tampering has long been normalized in the NBA.
The league recently tried to crack down, and everyone is trying to learn the new rules – not just as written, but also how they’ll actually be enforced. If previous early negotiations sparked no league response, no wonder activity has increased.
In key ways, this year is an aberration. The offseason will be rushed. I can see a temptation to allow more leniency.
But once the precedent is set, it’ll be difficult to be reversed. The NBA’s new emphasis on tampering might be permanently derailed.