NBA Fined Doc Rivers $50K Over Comments On Upcoming NBA Free Agent Kawhi Leonard
On Friday, the NBA announced they have fined the Los Angeles Clippers for head coach, Doc Rivers for comments made about Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard. Although the NBA did not specifically share which comments were in violation, the fine follows the comparison Rivers made about Leonard, comparing him to Michael Jordan while breaking down the Raptors’ matchup with the Golden State Warriors on ESPN’s NBA Finals preview show. During the segment he stated:
“He is the most like Jordan that we’ve seen. Like, there’s a lot of great players. LeBron is phenomenal. KD is phenomenal. But he is the most like him.”
"Kawhi is the most like Jordan we've seen."
Doc Rivers has some high praise for Kawhi Leonard. pic.twitter.com/i1R2gR1VrT
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 29, 2019
He continued, speaking more on Leonard’s ability on the floor and how he is in a special group of elite NBA players.
“Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot, bumps you off. Then you add his 3-point shooting. I never get into who’s the best player. Magic is the best player, Michael Jordan is the best player, LeBron. But it’s that same group.”
Teams including players, coaches, and front office executives are not allowed to influence the team ability to communicate with an agent without getting permission or before the NBA Free Agency starts in the off season.
In December, the league office sent a memo to all 30 teams to remind front offices about the guidelines of tampering:
“In addition, recent attention has been paid to the issue of public comments by players. Generally speaking, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team’s player. However, if there are other aggravating factors—such as sustained public recruiting or evidence that the player making such a comment is coordinating with his team—then there may be a basis for a tampering violation.”
The NBA made their decision to fine the Clippers $50,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rules.
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) May 31, 2019
Most notably, the Los Angeles Lakers were fined in 2017 for $500,000 for tampering with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George. Just as George, Leonard will be one of the most popular free agent this summer as his 1-year deal with the Raptors end.
He helped the Raptors take a 1-0 series lead in the NBA Finals taking home game 1 winning 118-109 over the Golden State Warriors.