The NBA announced the annual free agency moratorium period has officially been moved six hours ahead from 9:01 P.M. PT on June 30.
This means the Los Angeles Lakers and all 30 teams may begin talking to free agents about contracts at 3:00 P.M. PT on June 30 now.
In addition, the NBA also added a period of time before the beginning of the moratorium where teams and players can be in contact strictly to set up meetings. Contract details and agreements will still not be allowed.
This is the latest in a series of changes that commissioner Adam Silver is making to create more intrigue surrounding some of the league’s off-the-court events, according to Marc Stein of New York Times:
“Teams and players will now be permitted to begin free agent negotiations at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 — six hours earlier than the previous start time of 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1.
By league rules, teams also will be permitted to communicate with free agents or their representatives beginning at 6 p.m. ET on June 29 solely for the purpose of scheduling a meeting to take place at or after 6 p.m. ET on June 30.”
These rule changes may mean a harder look into tampering, especially in the first 24 hours where only meetings can be set up. However, those tampering rules don’t stop players from speaking to one another and that’s a process that LeBron James has already begun:
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler.”
James is fully aware of the tampering rules and it seems he wants to get a head start with some upcoming free agents — even including those like Kawhi Leonard who is still playing in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
James may have to recruit harder than he’s ever done before as the Lakers feel as though they are one All-Star player away from contending for a championship, especially if Kevin Durant does not re-sign with the Golden State Warriors.
If Leonard, Jimmy Butler, or Kyrie Irving joined the Lakers, that would be a huge step in not only ending their six-year playoff drought but having a real shot at the 2020 NBA Finals as well.
The NBA making these changes and starting free agency in the middle of the day is almost sure to increase intrigue, and that’s exactly what Silver and the NBPA had in mind with this deal.