LeBron James was asked what it would be like if the Lakers were able to sign Anthony Davis. James, of course, gave the obvious answer that it would be good.
“That would be amazing,” James told ESPN on Tuesday before the Lakers’ game against the Brooklyn Nets. “That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.
According to an Adrian Wojnarowski report on ESPN, some small market teams took an offense to LeBron James’ comments.
“It’s New Orleans’ problem today, and a problem with a different player tomorrow for the rest of us,” one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. “It’s open season on small markets and our players.”
It wasn’t even a pitch, it was a general opinion that it would be fun to play with Anthony Davis. I could understand the criticism had LeBron said: “Come to LA, Anthony”. But he never did.
According to one Western Conference GM, the small markets believe that their interests are not being protected by the league.
“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.”
Now I’m no expert by any means on the NBA laws, but I’m pretty sure a player making comments in response to a question from the media is allowed. Should LeBron have responded differently? Maybe.
Woj followed up his story with a tweet quoting an NBA spokesman.
An NBA spokesman tells ESPN: “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.” https://t.co/6hEIyW3qBi
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2018
But what we’re not going to do is pretend that LeBron commenting that he would love to play with Anthony Davis is tampering. If LeBron is fined for tampering because he said he would like to play with one of the greatest players in the NBA right now, then every team that signs a player at 12:01 when free-agency opens also deserves to be fined. It seems that these GMs are picking small things to complain about when they do much worse on a daily basis, maybe just not as openly as LeBron did.