How NBA tampering investigation might affect the Phoenix Suns

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Adam Silver attends the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Adam Silver attends the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns were not accused of tampering during the NBA’s free agency period. However, the investigation and changes could affect them directly.

Adam Silver, his tie askew and its knot down to the third button of his blood-stained Armani dress shirt, glares out bent-framed glasses over a basement full of NBA owners, general managers, and executives. Some of this dust-covered audience stands with abnormally good posture to appear tougher than they are. The rest slump down, elbows on their knees, knowing they deserve the tongue-lashing their boss is about to deliver.

“The first rule of free agency,” Silver mutters calmly, “is you do not talk about free agency.” Silver pauses to allow his motionless zealots a moment to absorb his message. “And the second rule of free agency,” Silver is now full throat, “is that you do not talk about free agency!

At least, this is how I so wish every NBA memo went out to teams.

A Fight Club-esque warehouse where everyone is there because they want to feel alive. Where they follow the club’s leader, not because they have to, but because they want to, even if they, on occasion, disobey.

But alas, the NBA’s guidelines surrounding free agency were probably sent via a 56 page fax complete with cover sheet and several professionally edited paragraphs. And that’s probably why most teams didn’t bother with these guidelines and did whatever they want.

The NBA is opening an investigation into how NBA news-breaker extraordinaire Adrian Wojnarowski was able to tweet out details of agreed-upon deals practically seconds after the official start of free agency, before which negotiations of said deals were off-limits.

“It appears some of you are breaking the first two rules of free agency,” Silver said as he cleaned his broken glasses with his shirttail stained in who-knows-what.

The Phoenix Suns are likely not a target of this investigation because their prized free agent was not exactly Kevin Durant. And they didn’t even sign Ricky Rubio until eight days after the start of free agency.

Basically, the Suns got excited for the new iPhone, showed up to the Apple store the minute it opened, and found a line wrapped around the building of those who got there super early. When they finally reached the front, all that was left was the 16 GB rose gold version.

To be fair, some of this fast-paced free agent signing was likely just that: fast-paced.

Formidable big man and banished Turk, Enes Kanter, claims the Blazers only gave him six minutes to agree to their deal (although Damian Lillard suggests it was closer to 45). When Kanter asked for time to think it over, the Blazers rescinded the offer and signed Hassan Whiteside instead.

Kanter is now trolling Kyrie Irving in Boston.

Versatile center and sidewalk chalk artist, Willie Cauley-Stein, was learning to fish when Steve Kerr called him to convince him to join the Warriors.

Mid conversation, Kerr abruptly ended the call, only to ring back a few minutes later to tell Willie they re-signed Kevon Looney instead of him. Willie was shocked but remained interested. He ultimately agreed to a deal that was less than the original offer he received just moments prior.

The NBA’s investigation is also snooping around into rumors that teams offered non-monetary perks to big names in an effort to circumvent the salary cap limits. Again, this is something that the Suns needn’t worry with unless, unbeknownst to us, they dangled unlimited popcorn at Bourbon Street Circus as the final straw to lure Rubio in.

It’s difficult to predict what will come of the NBA’s investigation, but one of the reasons Silver is considered the most respected commissioner in sports is that his rulings often come down overwhelmingly on the side of reason and in support of the players.

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Silver debuted as commissioner by permanently banning racist and overall horrible person, Donald Sterling, then Clippers owner, fining him $2.5 million, and forcing the sale of his franchise.

Most recently, a member of the Warriors’ owner group, Mark Stevens, who inexcusably pushed Kyle Lowry during game 3 of the NBA finals, will be watching all the games couch-side instead of court-side this season.

Based on this player-friendly precedent, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the iron (silver?) fist will come crashing down on teams at the end of this investigation. After all, it’s clearly in the players’ interest to have more than six minutes to decide on the future of their careers.

It’s possible that instead of punishment, the league could institute new, more logical measures around free agency.

Currently, the start of free agency aligns with the NBA fiscal year, July 1st. The simplest rule change idea floating around is to move up the start date to before the draft, or even better, a few days after the end of the Finals.

Not only would this drastically fix the ungodly calamity of humans talking to humans about incredibly important, multi-million dollar deals prior to an arbitrary date, it would fix most fan’s biggest pet peeve pertaining to the NBA: players wearing the hats of teams that just traded them during the NBA draft.

Under today’s archaic structure, the only draftee to wear a Suns hat this year was Jarrett Culver.

On the biggest day of this young man’s life, he was engulfed in paraphernalia of a franchise that didn’t even want him.

Official draft day trading is the only thing the NFL does better than the NBA.

While I am a huge proponent of moving up this start date, it doesn’t mean the teams who engaged in behavior that will soon be legal shouldn’t be reprimanded for breaking existing rules.

If the league lets these actions slide, then teams like the Suns who color within the lines (albeit often poorly and with broken crayons) are the ones who ultimately get punished for not breaking rules that would eventually change.

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If the date does get pushed up, then consider it open season for every team in the league, not just the ones with inside connections to superstars’ uncles. It’ll be time to bare some knuckles and get after it.

Silver tilts his hand back and paces methodically by baby-faced general managers, including a poised but cherubic James Jones. “If this is your first time in free agency, you have to fight.”