Rodney Heard Rumors
In that instance, here’s a possible reason for the way the NBA never acted dutifully on its flagship franchise. The scout responsible for running those workouts? Rodney Heard. How did Heard get into the NBA? Jackson, as general manager of the Vancouver Grizzlies, hired him. Rival teams were always suspicious Heard conducted those illicit workouts on the Grizzlies payroll, too. If Rush told me about blowing out his knee as a Kansas undergraduate with the Knicks conducting an illegal workout – and then hiding it – wouldn’t he have also told league investigators the same had they pulled him into their Manhattan offices and demanded the truth?
Heard did not have his contract renewed as the Knicks’ East Coast scouting director, sources said. After league investigators corroborated details from a October 2010 Yahoo! Sports report that uncovered years of illegal workouts, the NBA fined Heard $20,000 and the Knicks $200,000 earlier this year.
Rodney Heard, the New York Knicks scout who held clandestine predraft workouts in violation of NBA rules, has been let go by the team, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The bigger question is, who would be that successor? Allan Houston, the assistant GM, may make a good front man one day and recently- hired Mark Warkentien has the proven ability to handle the behind-the-scenes work. But you have to believe Houston and Warkentien would prefer to have Walsh around to oversee and advise, if anything just to figure out what do to with all these people — Glen Grunwald, John Gabriel, Misho Ostarcevic, Jamie Mathews, Mark Hughes and, of course, Rodney Heard — in the front office.
Significantly, Thomas, who now coaches at Florida International University, was not cited by the N.B.A. in the penalties it handed down. Had the league singled him out, and tried to punish him as well, it might have affected his ability to rejoin the Knicks at some point in the future, something he clearly is interested in doing. As of now, he remains eligible to rejoin the Knicks’ front office if he leaves his job as a college coach. The Knicks attempted to hire Thomas as a part-time consultant last summer while he remained the coach at F.I.U., but were then informed by the N.B.A. that they could not do so because of the conflict it created.
The Knicks were notified of the punishment Wednesday. The fines are expected to be announced later Thursday afternoon. The punishments stem from workouts conducted by Heard in Atlanta in May 2007 and May 2010. Heard, who has been with the club since 2006, was promoted to East Coast scouting director in 2008. The punishment is generally in line with previous cases that involved violations of draft workout rules, although some team executives had expected the Knicks to be forced to forfeit future draft picks as part of any punishment.
The N.B.A. has fined the Knicks $200,000 and one of their scouts $20,000 after concluding that the scout, Rodney Heard, conducted workouts of college prospects that violated league rules, according to two people made aware of the league’s actions.
Luchey also is a central figure in an NBA investigation into allegations levied against the Knicks for holding illegal predraft workouts, which reportedly were arranged by the team’s director of East Coast scouting, Rodney Heard. Luchey was named in the Yahoo ! Sports report as being connected to Heard, who reportedly worked out Chandler before the 2007 draft. Chandler denied he was involved in any illegal workouts with Heard. NBA commissioner David Stern last week said that he doesn’t expect a quick resolution. Luchey, who also denied any illegal involvement with Heard, said he has not heard from the NBA as of yet. Walsh declined to comment on the situation.
Wilson Chandler denied today he ever held any improper workouts before the draft with Knicks scout Rodney Heard. Chandler not only had to endure a demotion to the bench in favor of second-round rookie Landry Fields, but was peppered with questions regarding his recruitment by the Knicks in the wake of the NBA investigating the club for allegedly holding illegal workouts across the past four years.
Chandler, the former DePaul standout, said today he had two workouts with the Knicks – both coming after the pre-draft camp. Chandler acknowledged he knew of Heard in high school from the Michigan AAU circuit where he played against Heard’s team. Chandler said he does not remember ever working out with Heard. Chandler said he had not been contacted by the NBA. Chandler said he’s not bothered. “If it was true, it would be something different,” Chandler said.
League sources with knowledge of the workouts said Heard trained forward Wilson Chandler for multiple weeks before the 2007 predraft camp. The Knicks went on to draft Chandler with the 23rd overall pick that year. DePaul’s Dar Tucker said Heard led two-a-day workouts for him and other players for multiple days before the 2009 draft. NBA rules limit teams to two total workouts spaced three days apart. Heard also helped oversee multiple workouts in 2010 for a group of players including Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh and Notre Dame’s Tory Jackson, said Jackson and a college coach who was present at the sessions. The workouts also are an apparent violation of NBA rules limiting the time teams may spend with players before each draft.
When reached on Monday, Heard denied he was present in suburban Atlanta when Rush suffered the knee injury. “That’s so far from the truth,” Heard said. “Someone called me and told me he got hurt. I was in Florida at our staff meetings.” When told that Rush said he was running the workout, Heard responded: “I wasn’t there. That’s a lie.”
“I’ve heard these accusations before,” Luchey told Yahoo! Sports. “It was a big deal when Wilson canceled all the workouts and people were asking, ‘Why would the Knicks take him?’ The truth is that me and Isiah [Thomas] sat down, talked about [Chandler], and he told me to sell him on Wilson. Two hours later, he said, ‘I think I’ll take him, but I’ll get back to you.’ “When he was drafted, I heard this story 100 times. I’m surprised to hear this again now. Listen, Rodney and me are cool. We’re homeboys. I don’t actively hire Rodney to work out my guys, but I don’t step between his relationship with them. They’re all Michigan guys. “It’s probably a positive for me that we have a decent relationship,” Luchey said. “It doesn’t hurt me.”
Reached Monday, Heard denied being involved in any of the workouts. The NBA declined comment through a league spokesman. Rush, now a member of the Indiana Pacers, said he was injured during a workout with Heard at a gymnasium connected to the one-time home of former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim in Marietta, Ga. Rush had previously maintained that he sustained the injury in a pick-up game in his hometown of Kansas City, Mo. Multiple NBA executives, who researched Rush for the following draft in 2008, and sources in college basketball, the sneaker industry and those close to Rush and Heard said they were aware the injury happened in a workout with the Knicks. “It was [during] drill work, doing a three-man weave,” Rush said in a recent interview. “I went up for a dunk, came down and that was it. It was a quick pop in my knee.” When asked by Yahoo! Sports whether Heard was running the workout, Rush replied: “Yeah.”
Rival team officials said such workouts could give a team a competitive advantage. “The more information that you can get on a player, the better off you are in this business,” one Western Conference executive said. “If we could bring in underclassmen for two weeks and get to know them even better, we would all do it. “Say we played Player ‘X’ from watching him play in college for a year. And then, we bring him in for a couple of weeks and he acts like a complete whack job – or he can’t do what we thought on the floor, or he’s late every day. “That tells you a lot.”
For the past four years, the New York Knicks may have circumvented NBA draft rules by conducting secret workouts of collegiate players throughout gymnasiums in suburban Atlanta, Yahoo! Sports has found. Knicks director of East Coast scouting Rodney Heard coordinated and conducted the sessions, three players who were involved in some of the workouts told Yahoo! Sports – including one May 2007 session that resulted in a devastating knee injury to Kansas All-American Brandon Rush. A tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in Rush’s right knee forced him to withdraw from the 2007 draft and required surgery plus six months of rehabilitation. In addition to the Rush session – which was an apparent violation of NBA bylaws forbidding teams from working out players before the annual predraft camp – Heard may have broken more rules by conducting predraft workouts with additional players during restricted time periods in 2007 and for excessive sessions in 2009 and 2010.