The NBA begun a tampering investigation into the New York Knicks for the signing of Jalen Brunson, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. The league will attempt to determine whether New York made contact with Brunson before the free agent period started.
Days before the opening of the free agency, there was already speculation about the contract Brunson will receive from the Knicks. The Knicks signed Brunson to a four-year, $104MM contract last month.
The Sixers are facing a similar investigation due to their free agency moves, including a contract agreement with P.J. Tucker that leaked early. The NBA will also look into the James Harden deal, presuming that the two sides agreed to a future deal already.
Harden signed for less than the max, but he will be able to become a free agent next summer to receive a better deal from the Sixers. As for Brunson, they were reports that he was expected to meet with the Knicks, Heat and Mavericks before agreeing terms with NY.
However, those meetings never took place as both Dallas and Miami knew the player was going to New York. The Knicks were focused on Brunson during the 2021-22 season even before hit the free agent market.
Leon Rose represented Brunson as a player agent before he joined New York’s front office, and his son Sam Rose is now one of Brunson’s reps at CAA. Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, was hired by the Knicks as an assistant coach several weeks before free agency began.
It’s unclear if hiring a member of a player’s family is considered tampering for the NBA. However, recruiting Brunson’s father as a coach, certainly played a role in Jalen’s decision to leave Dallas for the Knicks.
“It’s family,” Brunson said, via New York Daily News (h/t clutchpoints.com). “It’s a comfort level to this, and it’s something I couldn’t turn a blind eye to. That these guys have my interest at heart.
I think (Knicks president Leon Rose) probably saw me before my dad did. So it’s just a one big family for me, and I’m super excited.”
The Bulls, Heat, and Bucks have all been penalized for similar free agency violations since 2020, and all three teams were forced to forfeit a future second-round pick. It will be surprising if the Knicks face a stiffer penalty.
The league raised the maximum team fine for tampering to $10 million, to go with a $6 million fine for improper deals and a $5 million fine for comments enticing other teams’ players.
The team can also be stripped of draft picks, have executives involved in the deal suspended, and, in some cases, have contracts voided. However, the NBA never implemented those stricter punishments to teams so far.