With the NBA Finals underway, the basketball world has turned its collective attention toward the northern provinces, where the Toronto Raptors made history on Thursday night in Game 1 to take their series opener against the defending champs in the first-ever Finals game held outside of the U.S.
In the meantime, the other 28 teams around the league are busy bracing themselves for what promises to be a turbulent offseason, with multiple superstar players set to hit the free agent market on June 30 and a host of suitors clambering to secure their services.
One of those players is none other than Kawhi Leonard, who has helped change the course of history for the organization that took a chance on trading for him last summer, with the full knowledge that he could pack up and leave after this season. Given the gravity of what he and the team have accomplished together, fortune seems to favor the Raptors right now.
That hasn’t dissuaded anyone so far. LeBron has reportedly already reached out to try and convince him to join forces in Los Angeles, but so has Doc Rivers. The Clippers coach kicked off his recruitment pitch in his own way — so ruleth the NBA — by complimenting Kawhi publicly during an appearance on ESPN, earning a hefty tampering fine from the league in the process.
When asked Friday whether he thinks the current rules are too rigid and the punishments too severe, commissioner Adam Silver said quite simply that the rules are the rules and that Doc and everyone else around the league already knows the score.
“Doc’s been at this a long time,” Silver said. “It’s not a fun part of my job ever fining anyone. And I understand the competing interest of the media in hearing a coach’s view about a current NBA player, but it’s something where there is a bright line in this league, and you’re not allowed to do it. Coaches or team executives in those positions need to say ‘I’m not permitted by the league to respond to that question.’ It’s a balance of interest. I understand that, but he unfortunately crossed a bright line.”
In essence, even Silver has to admit that the current rules are too Draconian, and it’s something that will no doubt be re-addressed in the next round of collective bargaining. Until then, let’s all get back to perfecting the subtle art of using all sorts of words to say nothing at all.