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SBD/Issue 211/Leagues & Governing Bodies
NBA May Investigate Violation If LeBron Entourage Joins Heat
Published July 19, 2010
|Heat May Have Violated NBA Rules If They
Promised Jobs For LeBron's Entourage
If members of LeBron James' "entourage get hired by the Miami Heat, the NBA wouldn't rule out opening an investigation into possible salary-cap circumvention," according to a source cited by Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. While NBA officials are "not actively pursuing any tampering charges related to James' decision to sign with the Heat -- and, in fact, have received no complaints that would trigger such a probe -- it wouldn't be surprising to see an investigation related to any jobs given to people in James' circle of advisers." The source said that the league "would not need a team to lodge a complaint to launch such an investigation." Berger noted one "impediment to prosecuting such a case against the Heat -- if and when members of James' camp are hired for any jobs -- is that it will be difficult to prove it is any different from what the Cavs did to appease James when he played for them." However, the penalties for such deals "designed to circumvent salary-cap rules are severe." The NBA fined the T'Wolves $3.5M in '00, in addition to taking three draft picks from the team, "after disclosure of a written deal with free agent Joe Smith." In addition to "forfeiture of draft picks, league rules call for a maximum fine of $5 million, voiding the contract of the player in question, and up to a one-year suspension of any team officials involved" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/16). An NBA official said, "The bigger issue is salary-cap circumvention. You can’t promise jobs or preferential services outside of a contract or a job for a friend. If that’s part of the deal, it’s a violation" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/16).
THE RICH GET RICHER: In Boston, Gary Washburn noted only eight franchises have won NBA titles in the last 30 years and the "smaller markets, regardless of how much cap space they clear to chase free agents, are at a competitive disadvantage in the pursuit of players who seek the lifestyle of bigger markets." NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "Obviously, they also like to go sometimes where there are bright lights. But the cap is a leveler of that, and I think we’ve had teams in small markets in our Finals doing quite well. I think that it’s about management and building." While the league's salary cap "does aid in ensuring that big-market teams don’t pad their rosters with superstars -- such as baseball’s New York Yankees -- it’s a harsh reality that the lone attraction to a smaller market is money." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver: "One of the goals of a new collective bargaining agreement is to create more parity throughout the league so that more fans and more cities have hope that their teams are competing for a championship every year. That is something we need to improve through a new bargaining agreement" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/18).
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez wrote the NBA has "become a thinned-out mess, a weak sauce made from inferior ingredients." The "best way to remedy that situation and create a competitive environment is to cut jobs, shut down the smaller markets, and cram as many high-talent notables onto the same roster as possible." Gonzalez: "Think about how dynamic the league would be with 12 or 15 star-packed franchises instead of 30 clubs rounding out their rosters with dead weight" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/18).
LOCKOUT LOOMING: TRUEHOOP's Kevin Arnovitz notes with the NBA CBA expiring next summer, it was "nearly impossible to find anyone" at the Las Vegas Summer League "who has an optimistic view of the pending showdown between the league and the players' union." Stern and the league have "furnished the union with figures that project enormous losses," projections that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter disputes. Even those "sympathetic to wholesale change believe that the NBA has an impossible sales job to perform." One team exec said, "The numbers that the league is throwing out there are hard to believe. That doesn't mean the status quo is working. But the league is going to have a hard time getting anywhere using those numbers as a foundation" (ESPN.com, 7/19).