NBA opens tampering investigation into Sixers signing of James Harden

The NBA has opened a tampering investigation into the signing of James Harden by the Philadelphia 76ers, ESPN reported.

Harden, who was traded to Philadelphia from Brooklyn at the trade deadline, declined the player’s option in the final year of his contract worth $47 million in 2022-23.

He became a free agent and on Wednesday he signed a two-year, $68.6 million deal with the Sixers. This season, he will earn $33 million, a $12 million pay cut from what he could have earned had he exercised his player option. The pay cut allowed the Sixers to sign P.J. Tucker and Daniel House in free agency.

Harden has publicly stated that he is prepared to do whatever it takes, including a pay cut, to help put the Sixers in a better position to win a championship.

Harden can also become a free agent next season and sign a new contract starting at $46.5 million for the 2023-24 season. ESPN reported that “across the league there have been questions about the existence of a handshake agreement over a future contract (with the Sixers) – which would be in violation of collective bargaining rules”. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey answered questions from league attorneys, according to the sports outlet.

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Last season, the NBA penalized the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, and both teams lost second-round picks in the 2022 draft.

Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the tampering violations ahead of the start of the 2019-20 season.

“We already have rules on the books,” Silver said, “and basically the league was coming in under our teams and saying – and I’ll accept responsibility – you have to do a better job enforcing the rules that are already there. on your books and do a better job of ensuring there’s a culture around the league where people believe there are absolute consequences if you don’t play by the rules.

Penalties range from a fine to losing draft picks and voiding deals. In 2019, the league increased the maximum fine for tampering to $10 million.