Sports Out West

Dwight Howard, Chris Paul free agency: Rockets, Hawks flirt with tampering

Photo courtesy: Acuvue

As the offseason frenzy to acquire free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul begins to take shape, teams around the league are scrambling to put together their most enticing offers for the two biggest available names.  

The Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks are two such teams, and budding star forward Chandler Parsons wasn’t shy about his he and his team’s desire to land the big man when he hits the market come July 1 and went even further. 

“I talk to Dwight every day,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle via CBS Sport.com. “I’ve created a relationship with him, where I feel like we’re very close. He hits me up about everything. I’ve covered pretty much every question he’s had. I basically tell him, ‘We have a chance to be really good without you next year. We’re going to have a good season. Why not come and join us, join our core guys who are for sure to be here and make us great, make us contend for a championship?’

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers still technically have each player under contract, which means that any team’s contact of both players will be a direct violation of the NBA’s tampering rules. That would mean hefty fines for league executives and worse, a bad reputation across the league for being unethical. Parsons is not out of line to contact him as an NBA player since he doesn’t count as a team official, but it’s hard to imagine the team being OK with him being so open about it. 

The Rockets obviously want Dwight in Houston next season, and they have the team and the cap space to bring him in. His ties to Parsons and the fact that the Rockets are young and posed to take the next step forward bodes well for their chances. 

The same can’t be said for the Atlanta Hawks, who have been so bold as to mention Howard and Paul by name in a letter to their season ticket holders that was obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitutiion. That is a violation of the NBA anti-tampering policy for the aforementioned reasons, and it makes the Hawks look bad as an organization. 

The open competition for Howard and Paul is going to be fierce, but in the end, it’ll be the players who decide, not the outlandish tactics by teams to persuade them.

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.