NBA investigating Philadelphia 76ers for possible tampering centered on James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House deals, sources say

PHILADELPHIA– The NBA has opened an investigation into the Philadelphia 76ers for possible tampering and early contacts, which focused on the franchise’s summer free-agent league starring James Harden, PJ Tucker and Danuel House, sources told ESPN on Friday.

One of the key elements of the league’s investigation is questions about Harden’s decision to decline a $47 million player option for 2022-23 and take a pay cut on a new two-year, $68 million contract, sources said. There have been questions in the league as to whether there is already a handshake agreement on a future contract – which would break collective bargaining rules.

Sixers basketball president Daryl Morey has already begun answering questions from league attorneys, sources said. The investigation is expected to include interviews with team officials and the organization, who will share electronic correspondence and phone records with League investigators. Teams were not allowed to have discussions with agents or players about free agency deals prior to the opening of free agency on June 30 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Harden is guaranteed $33 million for the 2022-23 season and has a player option for 2023-24 that would allow him to become a free agent and negotiate another new deal.

Harden, a 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA first-team guard, said he told Morey he wanted to do his part to strengthen the Sixers’ roster and give them a better chance of winning a Fighting for a championship — and the $47.4 million player option he turned down last month — could also give the organization the flexibility to do business once the season gets underway.

Tucker (three years, $30 million) and House (two years, $8.4 million) agreed on the maximum contracts available to them through mid- and semi-annual renewals. Harden, Tucker and House previously played under Morey with the Rockets.

After probing last year, the NBA withdrew a second-round pick each from the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat for early contact with free agents Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry in 2021.

The NBA imposed tougher penalties in these cases in 2019, including raising the maximum penalty for teams to $10 million and allowing team leaders to be suspended, forfeited draft picks, and even canceled contracts. The possibility of the contracts being voided is a virtually non-existent threat.

The Milwaukee Bucks were penalized by losing a 2022 second-round pick for rigging allegations against Sacramento restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic in 2021. In issuing this penalty, the NBA considered that the Bucks ultimately did not acquire Bogdanovic, who eventually signed with the Atlanta Hawks.

Copyright © 2022 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved. NBA investigating Philadelphia 76ers for possible tampering centered on James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House deals, sources say

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