After a 4th place finish in the Eastern Conference in the 2021-2022 season, the Philadelphia 76ers started the summer with several priorities, first among them bringing back superstar James Harden.
They quickly accomplished that goal, getting Harden to sign a team friendly 2-year, $68 million deal after he declined his $47.4 million player option.
Then, as a result of Harden’s discount, they were able to add P.J. Tucker for 3-years and $33 million and grab Danuel House Jr. away from the Jazz with a 2-year, $8.4 million contract.
If all of that seems too good to be true, the NBA appears to agree with you.
According to a new report Friday, the league has opened an investigation for the possibility of tampering by the 76ers.
Harden’s contract forms one of the key tenets of the investigation:
“One of the central elements of the league’s probe includes questions on Harden’s decision to decline a $47.4 million player option for 2022-23 and take a pay cut on a new two-year, $68 million deal, sources said. Around the league, there have been questions about whether there’s already a handshake agreement in place on a future contract — which would be in violation of collective bargaining rules.”
Apparently team president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has already started answering questions from the league.
This is just the most recent tampering investigation, with several occurring in recent years. In just the past few seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat all received penalties for inappropriate free agent conduct.
Punishment for tampering can range from $10 million fines to the suspension of team executives, forfeiting draft picks or the most unlikely option, voiding contracts.
It remains to be seen what the result of this investigation will be, but it’ll be interesting to see if news emerges that the team did get Harden to take a discount to help the team.
Follow Ian Miller on Twitter: @ianmSC
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