View Full Version : Source: 2 owners rip Knicks - Thomas deal

08-09-2010, 10:33 AM
http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/source_owners_rip_thomas_deal_IB9FyWuMq7Yhal65lbQA pI

At least two NBA owners have complained to the league about the Knicks' new arrangement with Isiah Thomas, who became their part-time consultant Friday while also remaining at FIU, according to a source.

One potential owner who might have complained is new Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, who is not a fan of Thomas, nor is Bobcats coach Larry Brown. The NBA is investigating whether Thomas' contract conforms with NBA bylaws.

In a new rule installed four years ago, NBA front-office personnel are not permitted to scout high-school players unless competing in All-Star tournaments. Also, NBA personnel can't have contact with college players until they declare for the draft.

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Donnie was fined for contact back in 2002

see : http://www.dallas-mavs.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5642&highlight=%22donnie+fined%22
Nelsons suspended, fined $150K for going to workouts

Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Dallas coach Don Nelson and assistant Donnie Nelson were suspended for the season's first two games by the NBA, which also fined the team $150,000 Friday for contact with players who were ineligible for the draft.

The Nelsons -- Don is Donnie's father -- went to two private workouts in June in Yugoslavia.

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By Marc Stein

DALLAS -- The infamous fine ledger of Mark Cuban still rests at just over $1 million for his 2 NBA seasons. Even though the cash for Friday's harsh penalties will certainly come from the Cuban warchest, they aren't specifically attributed to something he said about referees or Blizzards. There was no mention of the Dallas Mavericks' rebel owner in the league's announcement.

Yet you wonder if the punishment really was another Cuban-inspired fine, its severity tied to his combustible relationship with NBA superiors. That was the gut reaction Friday night in Big D, where the Mavericks are insisting they did nothing illegal.

Don Nelson, right, and Donnie Nelson, center, are suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season.

The Mavs are adamant that they didn't deserve a rough sentence for the presence of Don and Donnie Nelson in the same gym with Darko Milicic and a few other draft-ineligible Yugoslavian teens in June. Provided the account that made the rounds this summer is the real deal, it's easy to understand their dismay with the respective two-game suspensions doled out to the Nelsons and the $150,000 financial hit for the franchise.

Hopefully, the name above is a little more familiar than it was a few days ago. Milicic is the same Eurostud featured in this cyberspace a few days ago, for his LeBron James-like potential and Darko's attempts to gain NBA clearance to put his name into the 2003 draft -- even though he doesn't turn 18 until the week before that draft. NBA officials, incidentally, remain adamant that Milicic will not be draft-eligible until 2004, in spite of his appeals, because his 18th birthday doesn't come 45 days before the draft as the rules specify.

The penalties given to Dallas should also look familiar. Cleveland's John Lucas took the same hit (two-game suspension, $150,000 fine to the Cavs) for inviting James to participate in a few off-season scrimmages at the Cavaliers' training facility. The league declined through a spokesman Friday to expound on its latest fine reasoning, saying the afternoon's press release would stand. But it's a safe leap to infer that the Mavs were going to get the same punishment as the Cavs, lest someone accuse the NBA of inequity.

Except that the offenses here aren't nearly the same ... assuming, again, that the story in circulation is the whole story.

By all recent accounts, the Nelsons and chief aide Del Harris went to Belgrade in June to give a coach's clinic -- but also to seal the free-agent signing of Ognjen Askrabic, a 23-year-old forward who, because of injury, went unselected in the 2001 draft after generating some early buzz as a first-round possibility.

Rick Majerus, another longstanding member of the Nelson/Harris brotherhood, also made the trip overseas. On the nights in question, the Mavericks vigorously insist, they visited a local gym after being assured Askrabic would be there playing. Askrabic never turned up, but Milicic and some of his teen peers were there both times. The Mavs insist more vigorously that these were not workouts and not pickup games they arranged and that they had no on-court involvement with Milicic or anyone else there beyond a handshake.

League rules, however, dictate that the Mavericks' representatives were required to leave the gym within 10 minutes upon seeing multiple players under a draftable age. That group includes Cuban's predecessor, ex-Mavs owner Ross Perot Jr., who flew in from London on the second night as a favor to his old team. The Mavericks had been advised that Perot's stature as a businessman could help them close the Askrabic deal, since a buyout of Askrabic's contract would be required to pry him from Yugoslavian club FMP Zeleznik.

Because the Dallas types did not leave in the prescribed 10 minutes, and probably more because they returned for a second night -- looking for Askrabic, they repeat -- the NBA commissioned an investigation. The fine and suspensions tell you that the league was not satisfied with the Mavericks' explanations.

Thing is, based on what's out there, it's tough to spot the grave offense here.

The Nelsons are known as two of the foremost schemers in the game, particularly Big Nellie. Remember how they maneuvered to beat the Boston Celtics to Dirk Nowitzki by one pick in the 1998 draft? The leaguewide joke last season, when zones were introduced, was that Nellie doesn't even need to adjust, because his teams had been playing zones for years. Until restricted free agent Wang Zhizhi was set free to join the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, more than one league cynic was convinced that the Mavericks were actually orchestrating Wang's refusal to go back to China this summer, no matter how many times Dallas (now vindicated) denied it.

The Mavericks were floored by the league's rulings. The consternation is multiplied by the fact that the rule applied here is one of the most ambiguous in the handbook, given numerous cases of draft-ineligible youngsters (Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler) finding their way into NBA off-season settings over the years.

Fact is, it would have been awfully sloppy for any team to set up a "secret" workout with Milicic with hundreds of coaches from around the world in town at a clinic that had been widely publicized. The Mavericks didn't even wind up landing Askrabic, whom they were permitted by the rules to watch and still hope to sign next summer. With Milicic, meanwhile, there was no advantage to be gained anyway -- the same argument that Cleveland used in protesting the James case.

Reason A: James and Milicic are so highly coveted that you don't have a shot at either player without a top-three pick no matter how well you know them. Top-one pick in James' case.

Reason B: Milicic was going to be on display in Dallas a few weeks later anyway, for all 29 teams, at the Global Games. That's the annual 22-and-under international tournament in Dallas that Donnie Nelson created.

As the team, along with Sacramento, that has done the most for commissioner David Stern's wish to globalize the NBA, the Mavericks were floored by the league's rulings. The consternation is multiplied by the fact that the rule applied here is one of the most ambiguous in the handbook, given numerous cases of draft-ineligible youngsters (Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler) finding their way into NBA off-season settings over the years. It's multiplied triply by the fact that the Mavericks were asked by the NBA recently to host a group of German teen-agers this month for a clinic -- contest winners of a draft-ineligible age.

If any team has the coaching staff to handle the Nelsons' two-game absence to start the season, it's Dallas. Harris will slide into the hot seat comfortably, with 10 assistants primed to join him. More troubling to them is Donnie Nelson, after more than a decade as one of the NBA's foremost goodwill ambassadors, being branded with an embarrassing stain on a previously impeccable international resume. If it's not proved to be a justified stain, and based on what's out there it's not, that'll be the bigger crime.