If the Atlanta Hawks were hoping to make a big free-agent splash this offseason, this probably wasn’t the kind of start they had in mind.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a recent letter sent by the Hawks to prospective ticket buyers may have violated the NBA’s anti-tampering policy by mentioning Lakers center Dwight Howard and Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who both are still under contract by other teams and become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
The letter included the headline “Hot New Player news: Chris Paul and Dwight Howard” and began with the following statement: “The buzz around our offseason is more than heating up. With massive cap space, 4 draft picks, and free agency rapidly approaching, we sit in the best position in the NBA. Player interest is skyrocketing as the possibilities of landing Chris Paul & Dwight Howard become more and more of a reality.”
The letter later added: “This is your opportunity to get on board before its [sic] too late. Once we solidify our signings there will be no seats left.”
The NBA’s anti-tampering policy prohibits teams from commenting publically on potential free agents prior to July 1, and includes anyone involved within an organization, from the general manager to team employees.
The league has issued fines for tampering in the past, most notably in 2010 when LeBron James became a free agent before joining the Miami Heat. Then, the Hawks were one of a number of teams that were fined when co-owner Michael Gearon made comments about James.
Howard, an Atlanta native, and Paul have been linked recently about the possibility of joining forces. Paul is reportedly upset at the Clippers for blaming him as part of the reason for former coach Vinny Del Negro‘s firing, while it’s believed that Howard would be willing to go to Atlanta if Paul were going, too. And with the cap space that they have, the Hawks are likely the only team that could sign both players.
Chris Paul photo via Facebook/Chris Paul