Magic Johnson paid a $500,000 fine for tampering with Paul George. While a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live he made comments that broke the tampering rules. GM’s are not allowed to pursue players under contract in any way except through their team. That’s the rule anyway.
Tampering is widespread in the NBA, and everybody knows it. While the GM of the Lakers, Mitch Kupchak was ridiculed by the rest of the league as the only guy that doesn’t tamper and indeed waits for the free agency date to start talking to agents and players. Then one minute into free agency the Lakers signed Timofey Mozgov to a 72 million contract. Ha! The joke was on.. the Lakers.
So far the league would fine GM’s and front office personnel if they appeared to intervene in an inappropriate manner, but players were off the hook. Draymond bragged about recruiting KD while he was still with OKC. Let’s see what the NBA bylaws say:
Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager, or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services shall, on being charged with such tampering, should be given an opportunity to answer to such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained …
I’m not a lawyer, but Draymond should’ve been fined. The thing is, tampering is almost impossible to police. In that instance, Draymond would text KD or whisper something to him at the end of a regular season game. There is no way to control such communication. People talk.
But, there is a difference which people are talking. When it’s GM LeBron, seems other GM’s have had enough. According to Woj from ESPN, small market GM’s are voicing their displeasure with LeBron’s comments on Anthony Davis.
“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.”
LeBron has a lot of power on and off the court in the NBA. The draft, salary cap, max contracts are all in place to try and create a balance within the league and help teams like Memphis and Indiana compete with Los Angeles and Boston. The GM’s feel this behavior puts them in an unfair position.
Now, balance through intervention is a topic for a different discussion. For now, I’ll just say I understand their frustration with the feeling LeBron is allowed things others aren’t. To that, welcome to the NBA. Other than that, this is more a media thing and keeping the news cycle rolling. If LeBron wants to send a message to AD, he just calls one of his best friends and his agent Rich Paul, who then talks to his client Anthony Davis. The idea that a public statement reveals something AD doesn’t know already is ridiculous. That statement was aimed more at the Lakers, that was LeBron letting them know he wants better players around him now. The GM’s understand most of it but still believe this creates issues:
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.”
The story points out small market GM’s want better treatment from the league office. They feel the league supports such behavior as it creates drama and helps blog boys like us write articles. It seems a stronger new cycle is somehow correlated to a more massive TV deal and the NBA likes that.
This is a way for the small market GM’s to raise an issue and then ask for something else in return for dropping that same issue. Create a problem so you can trade it in for a favor.
Just like whispering to someone “come play with us”, an age-old negotiating technique.