The Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, and Sacramento Kings were all recently fined by the NBA for tampering. Various outlets under each team’s umbrella (a ticket promoter, a team website, the new coach of your Sacramento Kings) mentioned upcoming free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in innocuous, but still understandably penalty-worthy incidents. The NBA can’t have teams discussing players on other teams, because until July 1, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are still technically members of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers. They still have two more checks coming their way.
NBA players, however, can say whatever the heck they want, to whoever will listen. They can talk up opposing players as potential free agent targets to any media source available without risking a fine from the NBA. Heck, they can even text a player endlessly, or camp out at the dude’s house so as to beat their own general manager to the punch once July 1 rolls around.
This is what Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, a Florida native and buddy of Dwight Howard’s, seems inching toward. Here are some quotes from his appearance on CBS Sports’ ROME on Thursday, as lovingly transcribed by ClutchFans, starting with his reaction to Jim Rome asking if he thinks the Rockets have “a shot at” acquiring Dwight Howard as a free agent:
“I think so,” said Parsons. “I’m good friends with Dwight and we talk. When he’s healthy and when he’s playing, he’s the best center in the NBA.”
Parsons and Howard developed a relationship back in Orlando, Chandler’s hometown and the city where Dwight played for the Magic for eight seasons. Chandler added that he talks to Dwight “a lot” and that started even before this recruiting process began.
“I remind him how good we could be together and how it would be fun to play with him and what he could do with our nucleus,” said Parsons.
“It’s a decision (Dwight) has to make and he’s got a lot to think about,” said Parsons. “But I don’t see why he wouldn’t pick Houston with the excitement we got down there. We got a young team.”
I wouldn’t call what Parsons said “brazen,” but in light of the recent fines, it is a little strange to see a player so outwardly talking up a player on another team.
The Hawks were censured for sending out a ticket advertisement that sold fans on the idea that the Hawks could have Howard and/or Paul on their team next season, which is both inaccurate and misleading, and probably the most grievous misdeed as the Hawks would be taking money from ticket buyers inspired by this premise weeks before they could speak to either player. The Rockets mentioned both players on their website, ho hum, and rookie Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone was fined for saying this at his introductory press conference:
“Obviously, Chris would look pretty good in a Sacramento Kings uniform without a doubt,” Malone said with a smile yesterday when asked if he could use his clout with Paul to convince the superstar to consider the Kings come free agency. ”But he’s a great friend, somebody I had a great relationship with in New Orleans. We stay in touch.
“He’s got a lot of his own things going on right now,” Malone added. ”And as I told him recently, I care about him, I hope he’s okay and whatever decision he makes is best for him and his family, I’ll always be rooting for him.”
The “recently” bit probably did Malone in, as he would have been working as a Golden State Warriors assistant coach at the time.
Parsons can say whatever he wants to Jim Rome on ROME (full disclosure, I appeared on the show five times last year and Jim and his staff were wonderful, even providing me with delicious unsweetened iced tea), though, and this is probably for the best. Players don’t sign other players, and the NBA would have to go to illegal NSA-level lengths to suss out any form of pre-free agency period communication. Stu Jackson can’t really start reading the private Twitter direct messages of NBA players. We don’t blame the guy for not wanting to.
And if Parsons (who will make just under $2.8 million between 2012 and 2015, easily the biggest bargain contract in the NBA) does manage to sway Dwight, offering his favorite candies and really nice texts? Rockets GM Daryl Morey better put pen to paper for a massive extension for Chandler as soon as Dwight’s paperwork goes through.
Oh, wait. That’d be tampering. Never mind.