The Dallas Mavericks are upset with the way the New York Knicks handled Jalen Brunson’s free agency. From Knicks executives and players attending a Mavs playoff game against the Utah Jazz, to the Knicks hiring Jalen’s father, Rick Brunson, as an assistant coach, the entire situation had a weird feel to it.
But for the Mavs, maybe a mirror is in order.
According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Knicks are expected to be fined for tampering by the NBA.
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.
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Although the Knicks probably did tamper, this is one of those things that will never truly be stopped in the NBA. Does the Mavs front office really expect to play by the rules 100 percent of the time and not get burned by other teams desperate to get better by whatever means necessary?
No matter what the NBA’s tampering rules state, the reality of the situation is that teams and players have hypothetical deals on the table well before free agency begins … no matter how that gets communicated. Malik Monk, for example, was one of the first deals announced when free agency officially opened this year, but do you hear anything about the Sacramento Kings potentially getting fined for tampering? No, because this is common stuff in today’s NBA.
The days of having long, drawn-out meetings to recruit free agents are likely over. It’s about back channels and who you know. The Mavs should consider getting with the times before Luka Doncic becomes an unrestricted free agent in a few years. If not, the next sting might hurt even worse.