On December 28th, New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson was fined $25,000 for publicly demanding a trade. NBA policy does not allow players to make trade demands through the media. The NBA considers actions like this “detrimental to the NBA.” However, Robinson never made the demand himself. In fact, it is his desire to remain in New York. Robinson was hit with the fine due to his agent’s comments on December 19th. Robinson’s agent, Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports, had said that he could not let his client rot on coach Mike D’Antoni’s bench and not do anything about it. Goodwin requested that if the Knicks weren’t going to play Robinson, that they should trade him so that he could move on with his career. He believed there was a personal motivation on D’Antoni’s part for not wanting to play Robinson. At the time, Robinson had not played for eight straight games.
Robinson denied authorizing Goodwin to make the comments or that he wished to be traded. Apparently, Goodwin had it wrong about D’Antoni’s feelings on Robinson as the guard lit it up for 41 points this weekend against Atlanta. Now it appears that D’Antoni will use Robinson as a regular in the rotation.
While things turned out good for Robinson in the end, something should be said about the agent’s actions in this case. An agent shouldn’t speak on behalf of a client without the client’s consent, especially on a matter as important as requesting a trade. Goodwin should have voiced his concerns about Robinson’s playing time with Robinson prior to speaking to the team.
Goodwin should also not make comments that are detrimental to the NBA. His business depends on his relationships with teams. When Goodwin goes to negotiate with the Knicks on future contracts, it is likely that they won’t forget the agent’s actions. Robinson’s next contract or another client’s contract may not be as favorable due to Goodwin’s comments about D’Antoni and the Knicks. If I were Robinson, I would be sending Goodwin a $25,000 bill for the comments he made to the Knicks. Robinson shouldn’t have to pay for his agent’s poor judgment.
My guess is that Goodwin recognized that this was a pivotal year for Robinson as he becomes a free agent after the season. With the little interest that Robinson received prior to signing with the Knicks last season, his agent wanted Robinson to play as much as possible in order to showcase him and increase his free agent status.
Goodwin’s concerns are justified. No one wants their client to warm the bench and not play. It’s not good for the player, whose interests the agent represents. It is also not good for business, as an agent will build a reputation around his client’s success. But an agent must not speak on behalf of a client without making sure the client is on board with what the agent is going to say.
In this situation, Robinson has maintained that he wishes to remain with the Knicks and doesn’t want to leave. His agent may have jeopardized these wishes as it has been reported that the Knicks have attempted to trade Robinson on a few occasions recently. The most recent rumor is that Robinson was going to Memphis for Marcus Williams and a draft pick. However, it is believed that the deal fell through when Robinson exercised his veto power over the deal. This furthers the notion that Goodwin acted on behalf of Robinson without consulting him first and has not advanced his client’s true interests.
The $25,000 fine appears to be the first time in the NBA that a player has been fined for something an agent said. Hopefully agents now see what their ill advised comments can do to their clients and this will be the last time a player is fined for what his agents say.