The NBA wants to send a very clear message to all 30 of its teams right now. That message? Don't talk about, write about, or even think about free agents like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard before free agency begins on July 1. So they reportedly just handed out fines to three NBA teams charged with tampering with free agents. One of those teams is the Atlanta Hawks, who sent out an email to prospective season-ticket buyers last week that specifically mentioned CP3 and Howard in order to drum up interest in the franchise.

"We fully understand and respect the NBA's decision," the Hawks said in a statement released to USA Today last night shortly after they learned about their fine from the league.

One of the other teams that was fined for tampering is reportedly the Houston Rockets, who were handed a small fine by the league. But it's unclear who the third team caught tampering was. Regardless, it's clear that the NBA isn't playing around when it comes to teams talking about this year's crop of free agents. So if you work for an NBA franchise, it's probably best to STFU for the next few weeks and keep both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard's names out of your mouth. Otherwise...

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[via USA Today]