As well all know, the LeBron James sweepstakes are just getting started. That’s not to say he hasn’t already cost a couple front office figures a few thousand bucks. The NBA — like all pro sports leagues for the most part — has strict rules drawn up for the proper ways to deal with free agency. More specifically, teams are prohibited from commenting on free-agents-to-be until July 1st, even if that player’s season has already ended and they have played their last game under their previous contract.
Just over a week after the Cavs were bounced by the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, two team officials have been fined for comments regarding LeBron James’ upcoming free agent status; one of which is an absolute given. Mark Cuban — who has never been afraid to speak his mind or express his emotions physically – was fined $100,000 by the NBA, which is fairly light considering the maximum penalties can include a fine of $5 million and forfeiture of draft picks. Here are the comments Mark Cuban made that cost him $100,000, courtesy of ESPN:
Come July 1st, yeah, of course, anybody would be interested in LeBron James. And if he leaves via free agency, then it’s going to be tough. If he does like I’m guessing, hoping he will, which is say, ‘I’m not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,’ if he decides to leave — there’s still a better chance he stays — then he’ll try to force a sign-and-trade and that gives us a chance.”
Saying you are “hopeful” a free agent will do something that will allow you to acquire them is a pretty big no-no. Based on his history, I’m sure Cuban isn’t phased by the penalty. The second team official to be fined was Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations Steve Kerr. He was slapped with a much lighter fine of $10,000 as his comments were much more light-hearted. Here is what Steve Kerr said about LeBron James during a radio interview:
(I’d like to sign him for) about five-and-half million, I think he’ll take it. Don’t you think? I have no idea. I want him to stay in Cleveland. I think that’s good for sports when you’ve got players you connect to over a long period of time, so I hope he stays.”
It should be interesting to see if team officials get the hint, or if the thought of possibly the best player in the NBA having no home is just too tempting to resist.
Cuban, Kerr fined by NBA [ESPN]