The New York Knicks landed their coveted point guard this offseason, but the NBA found some issues with the way they went about it.
In the days leading up to the signing, the Knicks freed up all of the salary needed by trading Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, and then Kemba Walker in a separate deal to the Detroit Pistons. Then, it was announced Brunson was signing with the Knicks before the free agency period even opened.
It seemed obvious from the jump that the NBA would hop in and investigate, and that’s just what they decided. On August 1, the league announced it was looking at the signing and whether the Knicks made contact with the free agent before his contract.
This is a tough one because it’s almost certain that was the case, especially since Brunson’s father Rick is a coach on the Knicks’ staff. Nevertheless, the investigation is ongoing and commissioner Adam Silver gave an update.
NBA Commish Gives Update
Silver speaking about Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver captured the majority of the headlines on September 14, but he did give a small update about when Knicks and Sixers fans alike can expect their cases to be resolved.
“The statuses of those investigations are ongoing. Hopefully they’ll be wrapped up in the next few weeks,” he said. “I think what prompted them was sort of just the tick-tock chronology around sort of when signings are permissible and the announcements of those signings and the information that came out about them, which was cause for the league office to investigate.”
It’s tough to imagine a world where the Knicks aren’t found guilty, but perhaps the investigation dragging out this long could be good news for the organization. If the league does find out tampering did take place, the team will receive a hefty fine.
Big Punishment Could be Incoming
Both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat lost draft picks in the 2022 NBA Draft after being found guilty of tampering, so that’s what could happen to New York if the league hands down its punishment.
It’ll likely be something worth losing since it landed the Knicks Brunson, and because they have so many future picks that they can afford to lose one. The Heat and Bulls lost second rounders, so it’s not like they lost their top pick in the draft either.
Tampering is a tough rule to enforce because it seems obvious many teams around the league do it or else there wouldn’t be new signings announced within minutes of free agency opening. It seems like the more egregious examples like James Harden taking a huge pay cut or the Knicks shedding salary for Brunson before he could even be negotiated with are the things that capture the most eyeballs.
At the end of the day, if the punishment is the loss of a second round pick, then teams will keep on engaging in activities like this because the gains far outweigh the losses.
We’ll hopefully find out for certain what’s going on in a few weeks.