Report: Phil Jackson to get fined for innocuous comment on Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell

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“He’s a great-looking kid. Great prospect.”

That’s all Phil Jackson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer about Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell.

But that’s enough to get the NBA to fine Jackson for talking about a draftable player. Adrain Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports had the story.

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson will likely face an NBA fine for publicly commenting on Ohio State freshman guard D’Angelo Russell, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

The NBA forbids league officials from making public comments on draft-ineligible players, and sources told Yahoo Sports that the league office was beginning to look into the matter Friday morning.

Is it silly? Yes. Welcome to the NBA’s fine structure. I know the NBA will argue a slippery slope — “if we let one GM comment on a prospect…” — but if you can explain the rhyme and reason behind who the NBA fine structure you can win a Nobel Prize. The why, the how much often seem out of proportion.

Jackson had come to watch Russell — a potential Top 3 pick — play. The Knicks are likely to have a top three pick (at worst top four, as the standings would sit right now).

Russell is an offensive-minded guard with a lot of potential to develop. At the worst, he’s going to score at the next level, and it’s possible he can round out his game into something special. He’s the kind of player the Knicks should be looking at closely.

The challenge is Jackson just can’t sneak into a building. If Sixers GM Sam Hinkie or Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan walk into that arena to check out Russell, only a few die-hard fans will recognize them. Jackson is a celebrity. If he walks into an arena, everybody knows. So then reporters are going to ask questions.

And no answer can be innocuous enough to make the NBA happy.