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The Clippers were fined $50,000 for tampering with Kawhi Leonard

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Doc Rivers’ comments about Kawhi Leonard on ESPN’s NBA Finals pre-show earned the Clippers a tampering fine.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Three

The Clippers were fined $50,000 by the NBA for comments made by head coach Doc Rivers on an ESPN NBA Finals pre-show. Rivers spoke about Kawhi Leonard as part of the preview for the Finals, calling him the closest thing to Michael Jordan we’ve seen.

It’s quite funny that Rivers, though technically the entire team, was fined for tampering while on the same panel as Magic Johnson, who received three tampering fines/warnings as President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Generally, coaches have a higher bar to clear when it comes to tampering because they have to comment on opposing players while giving pre- and post-game press conferences about their opponents. It’s impossible to talk about other teams without discussing the individual players.

When ESPN invited Rivers to be part of a discussion about the Finals, there had to have been an understanding that he would have to talk about Leonard, and/or other free-agent target Kevin Durant. There’s no way to analyze this series without acknowledging those two superstars, though Rivers could have declined to comment about those players in particularly in order to be as judicious as possible.

Rivers’ comments didn’t specifically address Leonard’s contract status or his connection to the Clippers, but they caused a bit of a stir. The NBA has been active in policing tampering throughout this season due to the nature of the star-studded free-agent class, so this is relatively in line with how they’ve handled similar situations in the recent past. Nevertheless, it seems like the potential for tampering should have been brought up ahead of Rivers’ appearance to avoid circumstances like this in the future.