Friday, March 24 2023

The NBA announced Wednesday afternoon that it will strip the New York Knicks of their 2025 second-round pick due to an investigation into tampering with Jalen Brunson this past offseason. The league determined that the Knicks engaged in conversations with Brunson prior to the start of free agency. This result comes after a four-month investigation that started in August and follows similar punishments given to teams for the same violation.

The Knicks signed Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract on the first day of free agency, but New York’s interest in the former Dallas Mavericks guard was reported well before free agency actually started. In the lead-up to the official start date of free agency, the Knicks were viewed as the favorites to sign him away from the Mavericks, and the two sides came to an agreement on a contract before Dallas even had a meeting with him.

In his first season with the Knicks, Brunson is averaging career-highs across the board (20.8 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds), while shooting the ball efficiently on a New York team that is currently on an eight-game winning streak. Brunson’s consistency and playmaking have brought some stability to New York’s offense and has helped players like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett in getting good looks. Given Brunson’s breakout season, in which he could be in the conversation for an All-Star spot, losing a second-round pick in 2025 certainly isn’t a big loss for New York. 

The Knicks investigation is just the latest example of the NBA really having no teeth when it comes to punishing teams for tampering. In previous seasons, teams like the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat have been forced to surrender second-round draft picks for tampering with players that they ultimately signed, and the same thing happened with the Milwaukee Bucks after a failed sign-and-trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic in 2020. Tampering happens across the league, and while the league tries to discourage it, teams will continue to do it if all it means is losing a second-round pick. 



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