From the

The NBA has fined Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon $25,000 for comments he made to the AJC about LeBron James, a pending free agent.

Joel Litvin, NBA president of league and basketball operations, made the announcement Thursday.

Gearon’s comments violate the NBA’s anti-tampering rules. If he doesn’t reach a deal with Cleveland by July 1, James would become the best player to reach the free-agent market in years.

Gearon’s comments: “If somebody came to us tomorrow and said you can have LeBron for max money and it puts you in the luxury tax, I’d do it in a a heartbeat. But am I going to do that for Ilgauskas? Am I going to do it for Jermaine O’Neal? I don’t think so. . . ”

They appeared in the AJC’s Atlanta Hawks blog on May 19 and in a story on May 24.

This is the third time in a week that the NBA has fined a team owner for tampering. The league fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $100,000 for comments he made during an interview with

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