In an effort to enforce the new player-payroll maximums, the NBA's board of governors has authorized what league general counsel Russ Granik calls "the biggest fines in NBA history."
An NBA spokesman has confirmed that the governors' vote empowers NBA Commissioner Larry O'Brien to impose a fine of up to $500,000 against any team that offers a player a contract that violates the recently negotiated collective-bargaining agreement. This includes, with certain exceptions specified in the agreement, any contract that puts a team over its ceiling for salaries.
Alex Sachare, the NBA's public relations director, confirmed that the governors took the action in their New York meetings during the week. Another provision authorized by the governors, Sachare said, is that if a team negotiates a contract that contains any "under-the-table" clauses--such as those providing hidden payments--the commissioner may impose a fine of up to $1 million.
O'Brien was also empowered to penalize the violating team by awarding cash, draft choices or players to any team that it may have injured . . .
The New York Knicks' talks with free agent power forward Kevin McHale are in a holding pattern, according to club official Dave DeBusschere.
"We have not reached an agreement, nor is there an offer sheet for McHale to sign," the vice president of the NBA club said in a telephone interview from his summer home on Long Island.
"I have been trying to stay away from reading and listening to the figures that we have reportedly offered or are ready to offer McHale. Some of the numbers are ridiculous, others simply funny."
The Minneapolis Tribune reported in its editions yesterday that McHale, who became a free agent this year after playing three years with the Boston Celtics, would sign a $7 million offer sheet Monday with the Knicks.
Tribune writer Sid Hartman said that McHale was offered a five-year guaranteed contract calling for $1.4 million per season plus an interest-free loan of $3 million to be repaid during the five-year period of his contract.
The Celtics have 15 days after receiving an offer sheet to meet it.