Posted by Ben Golliver.
Back in October, we noted a Yahoo! report that laid out a series of improper draft workouts conducted by the Knicks. At the time, the NBA vowed it would conduct an investigation. The New York Times reports Thursday the NBA has assessed a six-figure fine to the Knicks for the workouts, but has not stripped the team of any of its draft picks.
The N.B.A. has fined the Knicks $200,000 and one of their scouts $20,000 after concluding that the scout, Rodney Heard, conducted workouts of college prospects that violated league rules, according to two people made aware of the league’s actions.
The Knicks hold the option of imposing further discipline on Heard, who joined the organization when Isiah Thomas was the team president. Significantly, Thomas, who now coaches at Florida International University, was not cited by the N.B.A. in the penalties it handed down.Ken Berger of CBSSports.com provides these additional details.
The league determined that Heard conducted secret workouts before the camp, presumably to give the Knicks an edge in determining whether a prospect was worth drafting.
In an investigation aided by the NBA's outside law firm, the Knicks were found to have conducted illegal pre-draft workoouts with Brandon Rush in 2007 as well as Ekpe Udoh and Tory Jackson in 2010, according to a league source familiar with the findings. The league could not uncover any proof that Heard or any Knicks officials conducted such a workout with Wilson Chandler, the person said.
Rush, a star at Kansas University, injured his knee in the unsanctioned workout and was later drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2008. Udoh was drafted by the Warriors in 2010. Jackson, who played at Notre Dame, is not in the NBA. If Chandler, who was drafted by the Knicks in 2007, had been found to have participated in an illegal workout with the team that drafted him, the Knicks would've faced a more severe penalty, said the person familiar with the league's findings.Given that the workouts occurred over multiple years, reportedly involved a player the team eventually drafted and also involved a player who eventually lied about taking part in them, I argued for a stiff penalty: a seven-figure fine plus forfeiture of picks.
While the league's ruling does fall in line with other previous pre-draft tampering fines -- including a $200,000 fine to Denver Nuggets coach George Karl for attending a workout where his son was playing -- it seems much too soft given the full set of reported circumstances. For less than half the price of a second-round draft pick's contract, the Knicks were able to get additional, strategic information on potential players for multiple years. That is a competitive advantage and certainly against the spirit of fair play.
Despite the sticker shock, this is a best-case scenario for Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who needs all the draft picks he can get. The Knicks were recently determined by Forbes to be the NBA's most valuable team and money isn't really an object.
That raises the question: What is stopping this from happening again?