NEW YORK -- The Knicks are cooperating with a league investigation into allegations they conducted illegal pre-draft workouts, CBSSports.com has learned.
The probe, prompted by a Yahoo! Sports report this week, took the next formal step Friday when NBA commissioner David Stern revealed that the league had retained outside counsel to conduct the investigation. It is not unusual for the league to hire independent lawyers to handle sensitive investigations, as was done in the case of former referee Tim Donaghy.
When Stern was asked Friday what sort of punishment the Knicks could face if the allegations are proved to be valid, the commissioner said, "I don't want to go there. We can be very mean."
The lawyers retained to investigate the matter have yet to request interviews or documentation from the Knicks. Asked for a timetable on the probe, Stern said, "I think it’ll take a while. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency about it, other than if there are those allegations, we’ll be doing a lot to get to the bottom of it."
Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that the Knicks conducted workouts with collegiate prospects throughout suburban Atlanta in 2007, 2009 and 2010 during restricted periods, which would be a serious violation of NBA rules. The workouts, allegedly conducted by East Coast scouting director Rodney Heard, included prospects Wilson Chandler, whom the Knicks drafted with the 23rd pick in 2007, and former Kansas All-American Brandon Rush, who seriously injured his knee in one of the sessions, according to the Yahoo! report. Rush has admitted participating in the workouts; Chandler has denied it.
The steepest penalty on record for such violations came in 2005, when the Nuggets were fined $200,000 and coach George Karl was suspended three games for attending workouts at Marquette University that included his son, Coby.