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Lawyer: Rodions Kurucs will seek dismissal of assault charge to avoid legal, NBA sanctions

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated’s sports law expert, writes Wednesday that Rodions Kurucs lawyer believes the domestic assault charges against his client are “bogus” and that he will attempt to have them dismissed to avoid a myriad of implications that would follow any guilty plea, even with counseling.

Early indications suggest that Kurucs doesn’t intend to cut a plea deal but rather seek dismissal of the charges. Kurucs’s attorney, Alex Spiro, tells Sports Illustrated that the allegations against his client are bogus and stem from a bad breakup in the relationship.

”The former couple flew away together arm in arm in the days that followed the alleged incident,” Spiro insists. “Only after an unfortunate breakup did these claims appear - claims that the misdemeanor hearing today revealed were backed by no photographs or objective medical facts.”

Spiro is a veteran of legal cases involving NBA players and former players including Thabo Sefolosha, Ben Gordon, DeMarcus Cousins and Charles Oakley. Dismissal of the charges, of course, would limit damage to Kurucs career, but as McCann details, even a dismissal might not end the 21-year-old’s problems, particularly with the league and the Nets.

As the Nets noted yesterday, they will cooperate with the league investigation which would run separately from the criminal case. As McCann writes...

NBA training camps don’t begin until Sept. 28 and the Nets first regular season game won’t be played until they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Oct. 23 season opener. This window of time gives the Nets and NBA an opportunity to interview Kurucs and attempt to interview the complainant (who is not under any obligation to speak with Nets or league investigators).

But if the case is unresolved by the time camp opens, the league could invoke its joint policy with the National Basketball Players’ Association, the players union, on domestic violence, McCann notes. Under terms of that policy, Commissioner Adam Silver can place a player who is accused of domestic violence on administrative leave pending a league investigation. Such leave is “akin to a paid suspension,” according to McCann.

However, the NBA’s powers are limited to contractual rights over players and the willingness of others to voluntarily provide information. The woman who filed the complaint —two months after the alleged incident— is not required to speak with the league’s representatives.

Instead, says McCann, “the NBA will likely wait to see how the criminal case develops over the next couple of months. League officials will examine available facts and testimony.”

But even if the case is dismissed or Kurucs pleads guilty to lesser charges and agrees to counseling, the league can fine or suspend him without pay if it concludes he violated the policy.

There are also immigration issues since Kurucs is not a US citizen and is in the United States on a work visa. McCann writes...

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security enjoys substantial discretion to seek the deportation of non-citizens who are convicted of violent crimes. Likewise, the agency can ensure that once the person leaves the U.S., he or she is deemed inadmissible to re-enter.

Fortunately for Kurucs, he faces misdemeanor charges—and not felony charges. While Homeland Security preserves discretion in deciding which matters warrant deportation or admissibility actions, Kurucs probably won’t face immigration consequences due to the lower classification of the charges as misdemeanors.

Still, the Sports Illustrated lawyer notes that Canada could deny entry to Kurucs when the Nets fly to Toronto to face the Raptors on December 14.

There are, McCann notes, a lot of unanswered questions.

Many facts have not yet been made public, thus leaving an incomplete narrative. To that end, it’s unknown if there were witnesses other than Kurucs and the complainant, or if alcohol or drugs may have played a role in the couple’s argument. Likewise, it’s unknown if there are texts, emails and social media messages that may shed light on the veracity and accuracy of the accusation. The complainant reportedly did not report the incident to law enforcement for nearly two months. It she appears continued to date Kurucs, including taking a trip to Las Vegas with him.

While not a felony, the charges Kurucs faces are serious, but since Kurucs does not appear to have a criminal record, he begins the legal process in a more favorable position than if he were a “repeat offender,” McCann notes.

Kurucs, who didn’t enter a plea at Tuesday’s hearing in Brooklyn, will have his next court hearing October 21, two days before the Nets open their season at Barclays Center.