The NBA fined the Los Angeles Clippers $50,000 on Friday for violating the league's anti-tampering rule after head coach Doc Rivers said on ESPN that Kawhi Leonard is "the most like (Michael) Jordan that we've seen."
Commissioner Adam Silver later explained the reasoning behind the fine.
"I would just say Doc's been at this a long time," Silver told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. "It's not a fun part of my job ever fining anyone and I understand the competing interests of the media in hearing a coach's view about a current NBA player but it's something where there's a bright line in this league and you're not allowed to do it. And head 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."
The Raptors have reached out to the NBA "multiple times" about the Clippers' perceived pursuit of Leonard, sources told TSN's Josh Lewenberg.
Former Lakers president Magic Johnson - who joined Rivers in the discussion about Kawhi - was fined $50,000 in 2018 for similar praise of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Clippers are widely rumored to be one of the teams ready to pursue Leonard in free agency this summer. Earlier this season, Raptors employees reported that they frequently noticed Clippers employees at Toronto's games.
It was reported on Wednesday that the Clippers looked into purchasing the rights to Leonard's former "Klaw" logo from Nike, which he no longer endorses.