In their search for depth at center during free agency, the Suns talked to a lot of players but reached a deal with former Spur and Trail Blazer Drew Eubanks for the veteran minimum, a contract that barely was noticed around the league.
Except at NBA headquarters, which investigated the signing and concluded the Suns "engaged in free agency discussions involving Drew Eubanks prior to the date when such discussions were permitted." For that, the league announced it has penalized the Suns a second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft (this is Denver's pick that Phoenix traded for from Orlando).
The Suns responded with a statement saying any violation was "inadvertent."
Suns statement in response to the NBA’s investigation:
We are disappointed with the results of the NBA investigation. If there was a violation, it was inadvertent. We are focused on complying with league rules and competing at the highest level every year. With that being said,…
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) October 25, 2023
A couple of quick thoughts on this.
• According to Spotrac’s offseason signings tracker, 73 players signed contracts in the first 24 hours of NBA free agency, valuing $2.8 billion. But this two-year, minimum contract signing was the one that crossed the line and was tampering? Okay. Sure.
• The punishment is taking away what would have been Denver's second-round pick — a draft pick that likely will be between 55-60. That will teach them.
• Every front office in the league contacts players before they are allowed by the NBA's rules. Every one. As front office people have told NBC Sports, free agency is about three-quarters done by the time the league says free agency officially starts. The reaction to any team that gets their guy then gets nailed for tampering and loses a second-round pick is to shrug. It's just the cost of doing business.
• The NBA started to address the reality of the situation in the latest CBA, saying teams can now begin talking new contracts with their own players about to become free agents once their season ends.
• Still, the investigation and punishment in this case seems silly and NCAA-level arbitrary.