Almost any team in the league would love to have Chris Paul, but they’d better not tell Paul or his agent that.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the NBA has issued a memo to warn teams about the consequences of making illegal contact with Paul:
ESPN.com learned that the memo spells out that “no team should be having communications with Chris Paul or his agent or representative about a potential trade for Paul that have not been authorized in advance by the New Orleans Hornets.”This measure comes in the wake of various media reports in recent days that Paul’s new agent, Leon Rose, has been talking to a handful of teams about pursuing trades for his client.The memo, sources said, also threatens penalties for any such communications that could potentially include “suspension of the offending person, prohibition of the offending team from hiring the person being tampered with, forfeiture of draft picks and individual and/or team fines of up to $5 million.”
It’s clear that the league didn’t enjoy the collusion rumors that have dogged LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, and would like to nip any similar rumors about CP3 in the bud.
As we saw with LeBron, it can be extremely difficult to enforce anything that could be considered tampering. Would Kevin Durant giving a twitter shout-out to Paul be tampering? What about Dwight Howard sending Paul a FaceBook message? Or a general manager saying that he loves Paul’s game in a radio interview? Or LeBron giving Paul advice after a summer camp session?
This was a memo the league had to send for the sake of its image, but the bottom line is that this will be nearly impossible to enforce. Information is everywhere now, and Paul and Rose can be reached by a million different people through a number of mediums. Trying to stop Paul and his agent from making an under-the-table agreement with another team is one thing, and I’m sure teams will be very careful about making direct contact with Paul or Rose. But teams will continue to talk about Paul, rumors will continue to spread, those rumors will reach Paul and Rose somehow, and the flow of information and misinformation surrounding a potential Paul trade will continue. In this day and age, no memo can change that.