If Isiah Thomas were to be offered and accept the Washington Wizards' head coaching job, his recent efforts to become a majority owner in the Continental Basketball Association could be affected.
Thomas would need approval from three-fourths of the NBA's 29 owners to move ahead with a venture he has pursued for months.
But NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik said that if Thomas held a management position with an NBA team and held controlling interests in the CBA, "It presents a clear conflict." Nevertheless, team officials could vote for Thomas to hold dual roles.
Granik said that if Thomas were to own the CBA, which other than the college draft is the NBA's main professional feeder system, he would have the opportunity to steer some of the CBA's top talent to the Wizards. That could provide an edge over the NBA's 28 other teams, Granik said.
Thomas, who reportedly has been negotiating to assume control over the CBA for an undisclosed amount through his company, Isiah Incorporated, plans to expand the CBA from nine to at least 20 teams, with each CBA team having an affiliation with an NBA franchise. That way, NBA teams could develop farm systems much like major league baseball teams.
Such an alignment also could alleviate any notion that Thomas would have undue influence in compiling talent to his advantage, since each NBA team would be responsible for stocking and developing its CBA franchise.
The NBA's contract with the CBA recently expired but the sides are talking about renewing their affiliation, Granik said. The partnership of the leagues consisted of all NBA teams paying a flat fee to the CBA so NBA teams could sign CBA players.
The NBA also paid the CBA a "mid-six-figure" fee to pay for officials. The CBA also is the top training ground for NBA referees, Granik said.
Thomas, who worked as a studio analyst for NBC's broadcast of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks tonight, could not be reached for comment.
However, Thomas told the Detroit Free Press that he did not think coaching in the NBA and owning the CBA would pose a conflict.
"It's not like they are competing leagues," he said.
Thomas has not had contact with the Wizards since meeting with team owner Abe Pollin last Thursday. Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld declined to comment.
Although NBA bylaws say that three-fourths approval of the owners is needed for one of its team's officials to have majority ownership in another professional basketball association or league, they do not address minority ownership in such a venture.
"No owner or no other person having management authority, with respect to a member, should have any substantial, direct or indirect financial interest in, any executive position with, or directly, or indirectly, any management authority over any other professional basketball association or league," the NBA bylaws read.
Notes: Unseld and several members of the Wizards' player personnel and scouting departments have spent the past two days observing NBA hopefuls at the final pre-draft camp here. Many of the top 20 projected draft picks will not participate in the camp but will arrive Saturday, when they will be administered physicals and have their heights and weights measured. Washington has the seventh and 35th overall picks. . . .
Jim Brovelli, who coached the Wizards on an interim basis after Bernie Bickerstaff was fired April 5, is one of 29 coaches putting the players through drills. His staff -- Mike Brown and John Outlaw -- also is on hand. So is Bickerstaff, now an executive with the Harlem Globetrotters. . . .
The NBA lifted its moratorium on teams having to wait six months after signing a player before trading him so pre-draft deals can take place.