Small-market NBA teams outraged over non-enforcement of tampering by players
Lebron James and the Lakers are a prime example. Lebron has made it clear he wants the big-market Lakers to snatch Anthony Davis from the small-market Pelicans, yet the NBA does not go after players for this type of interaction. The NBA will penalize teams for tampering (at least twice for the Lakers), but players seem immune from such action.
LeBron James wants the Lakers to trade for Anthony Davis. At the very least, he wants the conversation about it to start. So let's have a frank look at it: https://t.co/IkUMjYXn38— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) December 19, 2018
The big-market teams normally have more leverage in attracting stars than their small-market rivals. The NBA will fine teams for such interference, but not players (per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski):
In the wake of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James publicly endorsing pursuit of a trade for Anthony Davis, several small-market general managers are privately expressing outrage over what they believe is the NBA's unwillingness to enforce the league's tampering rules.
Rival teams contend James's public longing for players under contract has created a tsunami of reaction, coverage and consequences that can be seen as designed to destabilize an opposition organization working to retain its star player. The fact that Davis recently hired James' business partner -- Rich Paul of Klutch Sports -- for his agent representation has elevated the belief that Klutch will eventually push the Pelicans to make a deal with the Lakers -- or risk losing Davis in free agency.
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 than those of management and suggests they only act to level punishment with evidence of the team's involvement in a player violation.
As Woj suggests, the League may favor the big-market teams because of the media attention - and in the end - the money it brings. Lesser markets such as New Orleans, Memphis and Milwaukee suffer for it. Per Woj, "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." He could be correct.
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Photo via Gerald Hebert/AP