Breaking News: Rodney Heard, Brandon Rush and New York Knicks Scouting Scandal
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports broke news earlier today of former New York Knicks Director of East Coast scouting Rodney Heard conducting illegal pre-draft workouts in gymnasiums in Atlanta.
These workout sessions allegedly took place before the 2007, 2009, and 2010 NBA drafts.
NBA rules allow teams only two workouts with players spaced three days apart. Teams are also not allowed to work out any players before the annual NBA pre-draft camp.
Prior to the 2007 draft, Heard supposedly used his relationship with Wilson Chandler's agent, Chris Luchey, to work work out with Chandler for weeks.
This certainly gave the Knicks an unfair advantage over other teams, as they had more exposure and direct access to Chandler to further evaluate his talent and potential at the NBA level. Chandler was generally regarded as a second-round pick coming into the draft and has since been one of the great picks of the 2007 class.
Wilson declined an invite to the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando and canceled workouts with multiple teams prior to the draft. He scheduled seven workouts in the nine days leading up to the draft, and there were questions at the time as to whether or not he already had an understanding with a team as a guaranteed selection in the first round.
Now that this story has come to light, it's all but certain that he had an agreement with the Knicks to forgo workouts with other teams with the assurance that he would be their pick at No. 23.
The man leading the front office—the man most likely responsible for those assurances—was none other than Isiah Thomas. Surprised? Well, you shouldn't be.
This also helps to debunk the absurd notion that Thomas is an amazing evaluator of talent, as it appears that he has had an unfair advantage.
The man currently in charge, Donnie Walsh, has denied any knowledge or involvement in the illegal draft workout sessions supervised by Heard. Until a formal investigation uncovers the truth, we can only take him at his word.
The more intriguing story is that of Indiana Pacers guard Brandon Rush.
Rush—an All-American from Kansas who was projected as a high lottery pick in the 2007 draft—suffered a devastating ACL tear in his right knee during one of the workouts led by Heard. This injury and the six months of rehabilitation that followed forced him to pull out of the 2007 draft.
Rush initially covered the story up, saying the injury occurred during a pickup game at Kansas. He has since recanted that story and has confirmed that the injury happened during a workout headed by Rodney Heard.
For the injury to happen in sanctioned workouts is one thing, but for such a promising player to get injured during an illegally conducted workout is unacceptable.
While Rush helped lead Kansas to a national title following his rehabilitation and return from injury, his ceiling appears to be limited in the NBA, as he has not found any consistent success.
An unnamed Western Conference executive has claimed that “after that injury, he was never the same player.”
Comparing the Rush we saw at Kansas and the mediocre player he has been in Indiana, the difference is clear.
Now, Rush's eligibility at Kansas comes into question as the NCAA and NBA are sure to investigate the matter further. Pre-draft workouts are sure to be a factor, but the main issue will be if an agent paid for his travel and expenses to fly to Atlanta.
Like the recruiting scandal that has hit college football recently, this could be devastating for Kansas. It could potentially force the school to forfeit its wins and even its national title.
Fines are sure to be handed out, but who do they go to? Rodney Heard? Isiah Thomas? Chris Luchey?
Only time will tell, and the timing couldn't be worse, as the 2010-11 NBA season is about to kick off.
The original story on Yahoo! Sports can be found here.
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