Did Allan Houston and the Knicks break any rules in courting Grant Hill?

Veteran wing Grant Hill might join the New York Knicks as a free agent before the 2011-12 season starts up.

Makes sense, as Hill's former team in Phoenix is looking to pinch pennies, and Hill's recent obsessive focus with defense would aid a Knicks team that finished 22nd out of 30 teams defensively last season. On top of that, Hill's wife Tamia is moving into the second decade of her pop career, and the New York setting would appeal to the Hill family as a result.

Oh, and on top of that? Did the Knicks not only tamper, but break NBA lockout rules by conversing with Hill last month? Check out this item hidden near the bottom of Marc Berman's report in the New York Post:

Last month, Hill attended the Garden to watch Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski set the Division I record for victories. Hill crossed paths with Knicks executive Allan Houston.

Soon they may be crossing paths a lot more.

Coach K broke that record on Nov. 15, and the lockout didn't let up until Nov. 26. Even a week after the end of the lockout, team employees were not supposed to have any contact with any active NBA players, free agent or not. Former teammate in Detroit, or not. Good friend, or not.

It's possible there's nothing to this item, but if "crossed paths with Knicks executive Allan Houston" means anything more than "Knicks executive Allan Houston was seen bolting from his seat and rushing toward the door so as to avoid a potential million dollar fine from the NBA," then there could be trouble.

Or, technically, there should be trouble. We weren't exactly in favor of the NBA's heavy-handed-for-everyone-but-Mark-Cuban rule, which resulted in ridiculous moves like editing Ray Allen's appearance from a charity gig out of a TV show because there were team jerseys laying around, and the pressure it put on team employees both famous and behind the scenes. That said, Houston wasn't supposed to be crossing paths with Hill, or any other player, on Nov. 15.

Those Duke games. They're just full of bad influences and temptation.

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