I recently blogged about LeBron James trying to recruit Anthony Davis to the Lakers, and other players as well. And NBA GM’s aren’t too happy about it. Because of the NBA tampering rule.
League executives contend that the NBA needs to start holding players responsible for public comments the way they generally do owners and management.
“If these are the rules, enforce them,” one Western Conference GM told ESPN. “If you want to push Anthony Davis in L.A., if you allow LeBron to interfere with teams, then just do it. Change the rules, and say, ‘It’s the wild, wild west and anything goes.’
“But give us a list of the rules that you’re enforcing, and give us a list of the rules that you’re going to ignore.”
The NBA has fined the Lakers $500,000 (Paul George) and $50,000 (Giannis Antetokounmpo) for organizational tampering over the past two years, but has resisted punishing players. The NBA views player comments differently from those of management and suggests it only acts to level punishment with evidence of the team’s involvement in a player violation.
From ESPN: An NBA spokesman told ESPN on Friday: “Each case is assessed on its own facts. In general, absent evidence of team coordination or other aggravating factors, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team’s player.”
What has become more frustrating to small-market executives is that outside interference is no longer restricted to players on the brink of free agency, but some stars — like Davis — two years away from it.
Davis can’t become a free agent until after the 2019-20 season, and Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Friday that the Kentucky product won’t be traded”under any circumstance.”
“Interference is as bad as tampering — maybe worse in this case,” one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. “This becomes a campaign meant to destabilize another organization, install chaos and unrest that make it harder to keep an environment that the player would want to stay in. There’s no use in complaining to the league about it. We all get that it’s a players’ league, but there are rules on the books that they need to follow, too.”
There’s a broad belief among smaller-market GMs that the league doesn’t only condone the public wooing of star players toward big markets, but it encourages it. Commissioner Adam Silver has vehemently pushed back on that notion in the past, but most top team executives are convinced that the NBA is predisposed to craving the drama and storylines created in these circumstances, placing far more value on the potential financial benefits of fan interest and stars in big markets than it does the maintaining of a fair, competitive environment.
“There is no confidence among most of us — if not all of us — that the league cares about protecting our interests,” one small-market GM told ESPN. “It’s hard enough already to hold onto the kind of players we need to try and win with — but [the league] doesn’t do anything to help.”