The New York Knicks have been fined $200,000 for illegal draft workouts held in 2007 and 2010, reports Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times. Yahoo! first reported on the prohibited workouts in October 2010. In one of the illegal 2007 workouts, then-Kansas University star Brandon Rush tore his ACL and returned to school. The workouts broke NBA rules by being held before the league's annual pre-draft combine, staged in May.
The specific scout implicated in the investigation, Rodney Heard, is still a Knicks employee, and was fined $20,000 by the league. He has hired by former Knicks president Isiah Thomas, but promoted in 2008 by current boss Donnie Walsh. The Knicks have shown no hint that they will fire Heard for the transgressions.
In essence, the NBA's ruling guarantees that other teams will stage illegal workouts prior the draft. Two hundred grand is nothing in the grand scheme of scouting, especially to a franchise as lucrative as the Knicks. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Heard worked out Wilson Chandler for weeks in 2007, breaking all manner of NBA rules in the process. The Knicks went on to pick Chandler No. 23, and he's been quite productive commensurate to his placement. Two hundred grand, to find out a mid-major prospect is worth a first-round pick? Twenty-nine other GMs would cough up that amount right now.
Of course, revoking a pick or two from the Knicks might be considered overboard. But this wasn't a minor, isolated violation. This was, as reported, systemic flouting of clear rules, and it potentially cost Rush, a likely lottery pick in 2007 but a late-teens pick in 2008, millions of dollars. The NBA did the opposite of making the Knicks an example; its decision made Heard, Thomas, Walsh and the Knicks look brilliant. (Which is, as it were, pretty difficult to do.)