The Philadelphia 76ers signing PJ Tucker was one of the worst kept secrets before this year’s free agency period began. Rumors and reports swirled throughout the month of June, which eventually lead to Tucker signing a three-year, $33 million deal with the Sixers within the first minute of free agency.
At the earliest, free agents and teams were not allowed to begin contract negotiations until 6 PM EST on June 30. Tucker-to-Philly reports were circulating weeks before that time, however. A recent report from Marc Stein said the league will ‘likely’ investigate the Sixers and Tucker for possible violations within the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement:
I’m told that Philadelphia’s signing of P.J. Tucker is also likely to be placed under the investigation microscope by the league office. Tucker, of course, was signed away from the Miami Heat, who were docked a second-round pick as a penalty for “early free agency discussions” connected to their sign-and-trade acquisition of Kyle Lowry last summer.
An official investigation has yet to be launched, but the league has been stricter with tampering in recent memory. The Milwaukee Bucks (Bogdan Bogdanović), Miami Heat (Kyle Lowry) and Chicago Bulls (Lonzo Ball) were all docked second-round picks for violating tampering rules and engaging with free agents before allowed to in recent years
Assuming an investigation is launched, it’ll likely take several months to complete. The NBA’s investigation involving Ball and the Bulls took four months to conclude. If found guilty, the NBA can punish the Sixers in a variety of ways: fines, forfeiting draft picks or even terminating contracts all together.
It’s hard to imagine the league punishing the Sixers beyond a second-round pick deduction. But it appears this transaction may be under investigation soon.