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The Phoenix Suns have been docked a 2024 second-round pick by the NBA because they spoke with free-agent center Drew Eubanks before they were legally allowed to do so, the league announced Wednesday. The pick originally belonged to the Denver Nuggets and was acquired in a trade this offseason.

Phoenix revamped its roster over the summer, trading for Bradley Beal and signing a number of free agents. One of them was Eubanks, who agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal that includes a player option for next season. News of the signing was broken by Shams Charania, five minutes after free agency officially opened at 6 p.m. ET on June 30. 

That is, of course, an extremely short amount of time for a team to contact a player, send over a contract and have it all settled. The Suns were, most likely, in contact with Eubanks' camp prior to the official opening of free agency, as most teams are with players they're interested in signing. Why or how the Suns appear to have gotten caught in this instance remains unclear. 

The 26-year-old Eubanks went undrafted in 2018, but earned a roster spot with the San Antonio Spurs and has established himself as a reliable back-up center. Last season he appeared in 78 games for the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 6.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 20.3 minutes, while shooting 64.1% from the field. 

In the Suns' opening night win over the Golden State Warriors, Eubanks chipped in four points, seven rebounds and three blocks off the bench. But while it seems he's going to be a valuable player for them as Jusuf Nurkic's backup, there is some humor in getting caught tampering with a reserve center. 

Last season, the Philadelphia 76ers were stripped of their second-round picks in both the 2023 and 2024 NBA Drafts after the league found they had violated rules governing the timing of free agency when signing PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr. Going back to 2021, the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat each had their second-round picks taken away in the 2022 NBA Draft for breaking rules when they acquired Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, respectively.