The New York Knicks are reportedly expected to be disciplined for tampering in relation to their agreement with guard Jalen Brunson in free agency.
According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, multiple sources within the NBA expect a tampering penalty for the Knicks, as it was reported two days before the free-agent negotiating period officially opened that Brunson would be signing with New York.
Katz added that Brunson's former team, the Dallas Mavericks, was "frustrated" with the Knicks in part because reports of a finished contract between Brunson and the Knicks came out before the two sides were even allowed to speak to each other.
Ultimately, Brunson agreed to a four-year, $104 million deal with the Knicks that will keep him under contract until 2026.
Brunson's situation is complicated by the fact that his father, former NBA guard Rick Brunson, is an assistant coach with the Knicks, perhaps making it more difficult to police tampering.
The Mavericks are reportedly unhappy with multiple steps taken by the Knicks during the recruitment process, however, including New York executive William Wesley sitting courtside at a first-round playoff game between the Mavs and Utah Jazz this past season.
Per Katz and Tim Cato of The Athletic, the NBA's recent precedent regarding teams convicted of tampering is to dock them a second-round draft pick.
The Knicks do not own a second-rounder until 2024 when they are in possession of the Detroit Pistons' second-round selection and whichever pick is better between the Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The NBA would reportedly take away the better of those selections, which could come early in the second round given the state of the aforementioned teams.
Regardless of whether there was any tampering, it was clear that the Knicks felt confident in their ability to sign Brunson, as they offloaded a ton of salary from their books in the days prior.
The Knicks cleared out about $33 million in all by trading Kemba Walker, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to the Pistons.
New York was so desperate to make room under the cap that it sent the No. 13 pick to Detroit, which landed the Pistons a high-upside center prospect in Jalen Duren.
The Knicks went all-in to land Brunson after watching him average a career-high 16.3 points per game during the regular season and 21.6 points per game in the playoffs, and while it may cost them a draft pick, it could be worth it if he is able to get them back to the playoffs next season.