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December 28, 2020

Sixers President Daryl Morey draws $50k tampering fine for James Harden tweet

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James-Harden_111220_usat Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

Daryl Morey has been fined $50,000 for violating the NBA's anti-tampering rules with a recent social media post about James Harden, the league announced in a press release on Monday afternoon.

The post in question appeared to be an automated tweet sent on the anniversary of a Harden achievement for the Rockets, a tweet that Morey deleted shortly after it went up. 

In the moments following the league announcement, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Morey made his case to the league regarding the nature of the tweet, calling it, "an inadvertent post from an automated app." Nonetheless, a fine came down on Morey anyway, equal to the fine handed down to Harden himself for violating COVID-19 safety protocols last week.

(A note on that front: if the service were truly automated, one would expect Morey's account to be littered with posts calling back to previous moments in Houston, as Morey is one of the most active social media users among league executives. However, a specified Twitter search for the service in question returns no results for the 12-year-history of his account. It may well have been inadvertent, but unless Morey signed up for the service recently or deleted any previous tweet produced by the service, it would have to be a heck of a coincidence.)

A harsh punishment on the surface, the league's crackdown on tampering continues with Morey in the crosshairs. After an explosion of free-agent deals were agreed to at the very start of free agency in 2019 — including Philadelphia's own agreement with big man Al Horford — the NBA has promised a more hardline stance on any action that comes close to violating tampering rules. And with Harden and Morey's history together, the NBA clearly saw an opportunity to send a message to the rest of the league.

One of the developing subplots of this season is how closely the Sixers will be tied with Harden until/unless he changes teams at some point before the year ends. Trade rumors have flown back and forth since Harden began to make his way toward the exit, and though Morey has publicly declared he has no interest in moving Ben Simmons for Harden, each passing game seems to bring with it a new series of debates about the Rockets star. With Harden going for 44 points in his return to play on Saturday night and the Sixers losing in a blowout without Embiid on Sunday, a new round of arguments sparked over the weekend.

Ultimately, it's probably the most meaningless twist in this saga yet, unless you're Daryl Morey or Daryl Morey's accountant. Tough break.


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