SBD/30/Franchises

CHECKETTS TURNS UP THE HEAT ON RILEY TAMPERING CHARGES

     The Knicks have filed tampering charges against the Heat,
who have been "courting" the recently departed Pat Riley for
their head-coaching job for the past two weeks, according to
Vincent Mallozzi of the N.Y. TIMES.  MSG President Dave Checketts
said that the Heat "had not asked the Knicks for permission" to
talk with Riley.  Riley still has one year left on his contract,
and anyone wishing to contact him must have the Knicks'
permission.  Checketts claims that Heat Owner Mickey Arison said
his team has "prepared a significant package for Riley," and that
reports also allude to the Heat "making Riley aware" of the
offer.  Riley is said to be preparing his own suit case the
Knicks, in which he will reportedly contend that changes in MSG's
corporate structure "have altered the conditions under which he
initially agreed to work."  Winning a "breach of contract suit"
against the Knicks would allow him to coach elsewhere without
permission or without his new team having to pay compensation to
the Knicks.  The NBA's maximum fine for tampering is $1M (N.Y.
TIMES, 6/30).  Checketts:  "This may be, I think it is, the most
blatant example of tampering I have ever seen in twelve years in
the NBA" (ESPN, 6/29).
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