Tyrese Haliburton: I knew before draft Hawks would sign Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo before Hawks-Kings
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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A sign-and-trade sending Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Kings to the Bucks was reportedly agreed upon last offseason. However, the deal fell through amid an NBA tampering investigation (which ultimately cost Milwaukee a second-rounder). The planned sign-and-trade was initially reported Nov. 17. Free agency didn’t open until Nov. 20.

That opened the door for the Hawks, who signed Bogdanovic in restricted free agency.

But it sounds like Atlanta also got an illicit head start on free agency.

The Hawks met with Tyrese Haliburton before Nov. 18 draft – which, again, was held two days before free agency opened. Atlanta took Onyeka Okongwu No. 6, and Haliburton went No. 12 to the Kings. But Haliburton looked back on that pre-draft meeting with the Hawks.

Haliburton, via Sam Amick of The Athletic:

I just didn’t see a great fit in Atlanta. I didn’t know how it was going to fit there. I knew (Rajon) Rondo (who agreed to sign with the Hawks three days after the draft) was going there, and they obviously have a loaded backcourt right now as it is.

Maybe the Hawks merely told Haliburton of a plan to pursue Rajon Rondo and hadn’t yet contacted the point guard. Perhaps, Atlanta was just blindly confident its two-year, $15 million offer would lure Rondo (which it did).

But be real.

The NBA’s tampering rules are arbitrarily enforced. The league should write rules that actually match permissible contact and enforce them.

There has been talking of moving free agency ahead of the draft. It’s worth wondering how much that would matter. This is even more evidence de facto free agency begins before the draft, anyway.