Wizards forward Trevor Booker will become a free agent for the first time this offseason.
Booker would become a restricted free agent if Washington extends a $4,677,708 qualifying offer. Otherwise, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.
Either way, he’s technically still under contract with the Wizards through June 30 and isn’t free to negotiate with other teams until July 1.
So, this quote – during an interview at a basketball camp he held at his former high school – is a little curious. Booker, via Matt Connolly of GoUpstate.com:
“It’s the first time so my agent is talking me through it, letting me know every step. A lot of teams are calling right now that are interested,” he said. “We’re in negotiations with a few different teams, so I guess we’ll just see how the summer pans out.”
Asked whether the Wizards had granted Booker permission to speak to other teams, a Wizards spokesman wrote in an email, “NBA players can’t negotiate with other teams until July 1st.” He did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about whether Washington has or will file a tampering complaint.
Neither the NBA nor Booker’s agent, Andy Miller, immediately returned requests for comment.
I see three possibilities:
1. Miller and Booker have miscommunicated about the amount of interest he’s received.
2. Booker is embellishing his value during a hometown interview.
3. Teams have contacted Booker’s agent to express interest, likely violating unenforced NBA tampering rules.
All three are relatively harmless in this case.
However, No. 3 – the most likely scenario in my estimation – can be dangerous in the long run. The NBA’s rules are vague and arbitrarily enforced, leaving the league too much discretion to punish as it sees fit – or carry out any vendetta it chooses. The NBA basically has free reign to selectively enforce.
Overhauling the tampering rules is long overdue. The letter of the law should match what the league actually permits.
Booker is just one example, and likely the only consequence will be his agent telling him to stop talking. But the issue is much more pervasive than this.