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Rockets fined $150K for publicly commenting on Dwight Howard deal during league’s moratorium period

Jul 9, 2013, 6:25 PM EDT

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There’s a reason you haven’t seen a press conference with Dwight Howard holding up a Houston Rockets jersey, or similar events involving Josh Smith in Detroit or Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix.

Once free agency in the NBA officially begins after midnight on July 1, there is a moratorium period in place where teams may negotiate with each other and with available free agent players, but no contracts may be signed.

Since technically none of the deals made during this period are official until the ink on a contract has dried, team personnel are prohibited from publicly discussing anything that has been agreed upon during this time.

That’s the rule and the reasoning behind the substantial fine handed down to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday from the league office.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

ESPN has learned Houston Rockets just fined $150,000 for unauthorized public comments on Dwight Howard while NBA’s annual moratorium ongoing

At least part of the offending remarks can be heard in this interview Rockets GM Daryl Morey did with CSNHouston shortly following Howard’s announcement.

While it may seem silly that teams aren’t supposed to discuss already-agreed-upon transactions, there’s likely a legitimate business reason for the policy. If something were to happen and Howard (or any other free agent) were to unexpectedly change their mind before signing with a new team, it could cause problems in the areas of ticket sales or advertising deals that were made under the assumption that a certain new player would be coming to town to improve the immediate future of a franchise.

In case you were wondering why a moratorium period is needed in the first place, it’s due to the league and the players’ association using this time to conduct an audit that assists in determining the salary cap figure, which affects the specific dollar amounts allowed on players’ contracts for the following season.

Most teams are wise enough not to engage in these types of conversations, especially publicly, because everyone that holds a high-ranking front office position is well aware of the rules — no matter how senseless they may seem.

The Rockets organization just got a little too carried away in all of the excitement surrounding Howard’s decision. But after committing in the neighborhood of $88 million to him over the next four years, another $150,000 probably won’t sting all that much.

  1. doctorfootball - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    That’s akin to the NBA fining me $1.50.

  2. spthegr8 - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    What happens with ALL the Money that Stren collect’s in fine’s????

    • doctorfootball - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Heard he needs another yacht. He feels the current one is far too small.

      • Anoesis - Jul 10, 2013 at 6:29 PM

        He’s looking for one that will fit his ego. He hasn’t yet discovered they can’t be made that large.

    • spthegr8 - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      If he is keeping it all, then he has one HELLUVA retirement fund.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      According to some website called seatcrunch.com:

      The truth in the case of the NBA is that common folks like you or me may never know with 100% certainty. The quick and easy answer is that the NBA donates fines to charities. But not so fast. Of the four major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL) the NBA is the only one that does not publicly share the charitable organizations to which it donates fine money.

      When a fine is served, the money is split evenly between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). After this split, each organization donates its portion to a charity of their choosing. However, by refusing to announce to which charity the money goes, the validity of this system is frankly unknown.

    • Anoesis - Jul 10, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      What the NBA collects in these wrist-slap fines pales in comparison to what is raked in via the luxury tax. And the league can do what it wants with those millions. Sometimes some of it is distributed to teams that are under the cap. Sometimes.

  3. savvybynature - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Still not as bad as if they rested players during a meaningless regular season game that was broadcast on TNT.
    Now that is (apparently) a serious offense!

  4. mogogo1 - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    “…it could cause problems in the areas of ticket sales or advertising deals that were made under the assumption that a certain new player would be coming to town to improve the immediate future of a franchise.”

    In our lawsuit-crazy society, I doubt the moratorium would protect anybody from getting sued. Somebody would sue on the grounds that the team should have publicly announced that reports of the imminent deal were false, or that the deal probably wasn’t going to go through.

  5. dezglobal - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    chump change

  6. klownboy - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    For some reason I think the Rockets will look at this “fine” as a drop in a bucket. They have Dwight Howard. Period.
    http://wp.me/p1gCK6-FL

    • zerole00 - Jul 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      Maybe you think that because of this very obvious line in the article:
      “But after committing in the neighborhood of $88 million to him over the next four years, another $150,000 probably won’t sting all that much.”

      Nothing gets past you though.

      • klownboy - Jul 10, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        And same to you. Keep trolling dammit!

      • klownboy - Jul 10, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        And same to you. Keep trolling dammit!

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