New Lakers, same drama
Two weeks ago, Peter Vecsey broke the news on Twitter, the Indiana Pacers were filing tampering charges against Los Angeles Lakers, regarding their former star, Paul George. George and his camp were vocal about the young star wanting to leave the Pacers, move west and join the re-emerging Lakers. The Pacers believed the Lakers had illegal contact with George’s agent and believed there was some deal in place for George to sign with the Lakers in 2018.
The investigation is now complete and the Lakers have been fined $500,000 for tampering. Some think this was a fair punishment, some think the NBA is pampering cry baby owners. The league says the Lakers (pointing fingers at General Manager Rob Pelinka) “constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract with the Indiana Pacers”. Cool story, NBA.
The real issue in NBA
These recent filings and fines from the NBA and Pacers were just another message that small market teams are the bullies of NBA. It’s a proven fact that the owners of NBA have made it their business to keep Hollywood out of the loop. It started in 2011 when the NBA and players locked out for salary cap issues. Once the lockout ended, the Lakers immediately acquired Chris Paul from the league owned New Orleans Hornets, and a few owners panicked. Some didn’t like the fact that they locked out for months to keep big markets from having an advantage and once again, the Lakers came out on top. Owners, Mark Cuban and Dan Gilbert were very vocal in their dislike for Paul to the Lakers and even contacted the commissioner, which prompted the league to veto the trade for “basketball reasons”. Both Cuban and Gilbert have won a ring since the historical veto and now Indiana’s Herb Simon wants to try his luck at killing any momentum the Lakers are trying to gain. There have been rumors of Simon suing the NBA and Lakers over the outcome of the investigation, which he has since denied.
The Lakers always seem to be the example of the NBA. Before Magic Johnson was even re-hired by Jeanie Buss, they were fined for tampering because Magic tweeted they should go for Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. I’m willing to bet the NBA got a call from an owner that complained about Magic’s tweet.
In 2015 when LaMarcus Aldridge was becoming a free agent we heard all season long he was going to join the San Antonio Spurs. How was this rumor (that turned to be true) even leaked if Aldridge and his camp hasn’t spoken to the Spurs? Right before free agency hit that summer, the Lakers and fans used the hashtag #LMAtoLA on social media and the NBA asked Jeanie Buss to remove the online campaign.
Lakers just following suit…
We have seen so much obvious tampering in this league (especially in recent years) but no one seems to file charges, until the Lakers are involved.
2011 – Lebron James joined D’wayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Anyone that thinks Pat Riley didn’t have contact with James and his camp prior to free agency that summer, I have an ocean to sell you in Las Vegas.
2016 – Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors is the most obvious because Draymond Green admitted to texting Durant after their Game 7 collapse in the Finals. While the league doesn’t necessarily view player contact as tampering, it’s safe to say someone was on the phone with someone after the Green and Durant text exchange.
The tampering rule just needs to be done all together. Owners and General Managers should be accountable for what happens in their organization. I personally don’t think it’s fair to blame a team for expressing some interest in a player once that player has expressed interest in that team. I understand it’s a business but certain things should work both ways. I don’t think a team should be giving full pitch meetings to a player under contract but to shoot a text to an agent saying “We are interested too”, shouldn’t be an issue. Hopefully we see the NBA make some adjustments to tampering and pampering.