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NBA

Did the Knicks ‘tamper’ with Mavs’ Jalen Brunson before free agency?

Did they or didn’t they? Questions abound about the manner in which the Knicks handled the move for Dallas’ star, but will we get any answers?

Update:
Did the Knicks ‘tamper’ with Mavs’ Jalen Brunson before free agency?
TOM PENNINGTONAFP

With reports suggesting that Jalen Brunson decided to sign with New York before free agency officially opened, the Knicks could well be in trouble with the league for ‘tampering.’

Did the Knicks tamper with Jalen Brunson?

To be clear there is no definitive evidence to suggest that ‘tampering’ took place, but there is most definitely a whole lot of context in this one, so let’s unpack. To begin with the Knicks recently hired Brunson’s father and former NBA player Rick Brunson as an assistant coach. Then there is the Knicks president, Leon Rose who is a longtime friend of the Brunson family. We’ve also got Rose’s son, Sam Rose who is in fact, Brunson’s agent and of course, there is that Mavericks vs Jazz game which Knicks executives William Wesley and Allan Houston along with forward Julius Randle attended in Dallas. Last but not least there have even been reports that suggested the Mavericks were never given a chance to make an offer given that Brunson and the Knicks had already tied things up. See Shams Charania’s tweet below:

As mentioned before there is no smoking gun here, but it certainly looks like the situation is more than coincidental. Of course, the main reason we’re here is because the Mavericks let it be known that they were none too pleased about the $104 million deal that saw one of their best players head to the big apple. A recent report from the Athletic had this to say:

From what I’ve gathered, the Mavericks are quite frustrated with the Knicks — and not just because reports of a finished deal came out before New York was even allowed to speak with Brunson (though I am not sure how tampering rules account for father-son relationships, and this situation involves two of those). Dallas wasn’t thrilled about Knicks executive William “World Wide Wes” Wesley showing up courtside to a Mavs-Jazz playoff game, either. People I talk to around the league expect the Knicks to get dinged for tampering.

What happens to the Knicks now?

It remains unclear exactly if and how The NBA’s tampering rules will be enforced, but as has been the case before when one team complains about the behavior of another’s, something is usually done. Should the Mavericks go as far as to file an official complaint then we can expect to see the Knicks investigated and possibly sanctioned.

Where Brunson himself is concerned, he could simply deny any wrong doing despite the fact that there are in fact credible reports that suggest the opposite. Bruson could potentially say that he had no word from the Knicks until free agency started and as such had made no decision until after, meaning Shams’ tweet was wide of the mark. Consider for a moment that with the previously mentioned family ties to the New York franchise, there is likely no paper trail to be followed. Given their close personal ties, it’s reasonable to assume that any conversations surrounding a move would have likely occurred in person which means they could easily be denied. We must also factor in the fact that even if ‘tampered’ with Brunson it didn’t occur until after the Mavericks season ended. Why is that important to note? Simply because the reason why tampering rules exist - to protect teams in the middle of competition - would not have been violated. Ultimately while it’s difficult to prove, there should probably be an investigation, as all indications here suggest the Knicks acted in an improper manner.

Is the NBA consistent when it comes to ‘tampering?’

In short form the answer to the above question is NO. For a rule that seems to be constantly broken by a multitude of teams, there are many who go unpunished so it begs the question ‘Why?’ Whether the Knicks contacted Brunson early or not at all, it remains clear that there is a lack of consistency on the league’s part when it comes to investigating ‘tampering.’ If the NBA are in fact about to scrutinize the Knicks, then they may want to have a look at all of the various deals - there were many - that were agree just moments after free agency began. Surely, they might find something worth punishing if they start to overturn some stones.

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