The NBA has begun investigating the Knicks for alleged tampering in their pursuit of free agent point guard Jalen Brunson, according to reports.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the league will scrutinize whether the team talked to the 25-year-old prior to the beginning of free agency at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 about signing with the Knicks.
Brunson signed a 4-year contract worth around $104 million with the Knicks this offseason, after spending the first 4 years of his career with the Dallas Mavericks.
That signing came after weeks of rumors surrounding Brunson, with many NBA insiders openly speculating that he would head to Madison Square Garden once the free agency period began.
Now, the NBA is looking at possibly fining the franchise if they discover any illicit contact between the two parties, as Brunson was technically still a member of the Mavericks until the night of June 30.
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Brunson was reportedly set to meet with the Knicks, Mavericks and Heat once free agency began, but later canceled the meetings with Dallas and Miami — only taking a meeting with New York.
Adding intrigue to the investigation, Brunson has long and intimate ties to the Knicks franchise, as his father, Rick, had joined the staff of head coach Tom Thibodeau earlier in the offseason, and team President Leon Rose was previously Brunson’s agent. Rose’s son, Sam, now helps to represent the point guard at the agency CAA.
The Knicks are not the only team being investigated for tampering this offseason, as the NBA is also looking into potential violations by the Philadelphia 76ers for possible illicit contact with James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, according to an ESPN report.
Investigations into tampering typically take several months, so the franchise will likely need to wait to find out if they will be found guilty.
The NBA has recently upped-the-ante for tampering penalties, as teams face a maximum fine of $10 million, while team executives could face suspensions and the franchise could lose draft picks. In rare instances, a newly-signed contract could become invalidated, though that is unlikely to actually happen.