The Los Angeles Lakers getting penalized for tampering with 2018 free agent Paul George would be a huge blow to their offseason dreams, but they apparently won’t be getting much sympathy from the rest of the NBA should the league’s investigators choose to drop the hammer on them. In fact, according to Bob Kravitz of WTHR it’s quite the opposite.
Kravitz reports that “other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, ‘Good for you. Fight the good fight’” regarding the tampering allegations Indiana made against the Lakers that became public over the weekend.
Should the Lakers be found guilty of tampering, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports the team could potentially lose draft picks or be fined “up to $5 million” or even face “future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials,” all of which (especially the third thing) would put a damper on their ability to sign George and another max free agent in 2018.
With those types of penalties potentially on the horizon, it’s no wonder other teams are hopeful that a competitor gets hit with them. This probably goes double for the Lakers when it comes to small-market teams who are likely (and justifiably) jealous of their ability to use a desirable destination to entice players to play there as opposed to having to pitch millionaires on the benefits of living in Indiana.
The other small (and kind of hilarious) irony here is teams patronizingly telling the Pacers to “fight the good fight” in a league as tamper-heavy as the NBA. The Lakers last front office regime only just finished being laughed at by anonymous sources in various stories for being too staunch when following the rules and avoiding tampering, but now they’re apparently out of control and must be stopped by plucky heroes like the Pacers.
It seems the rest of the NBA views tampering is like porridge, and the various Goldilocks’ around the league want the Lakers to do it juuuuuuust right.
Still, while these teams all want to get excited by the big, bad Lakers possibly getting penalized, Lakers blogging Godfather Darius Soriano may have (as usual) put it best on Twitter:
1. tampering is a rampant problem in the league 2. small market teams can hate the lakers, but will still cash those revenue sharing checks https://t.co/Gd2Wl2Dy5p— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) August 21, 2017
There is also the reality that even if the Lakers tampered, that wasn’t the real issue for the Pacers. Indiana’s real problem was losing George’s interest. If the Lakers recruited him behind the scenes after that, then that sucks for the Pacers, but the fact remains that his camp was leaking to every reporter with a tape recorder that George was “hell-bent” on getting to Los Angeles was what really drove down the trade market for him, not any sweet nothings the Lakers may or may not have whispered in his ear.
Hurting the Pacers even more than all of the preceding was the fact that their front office turned down better offers to trade George for Victor Oladipo’s terrible contract and Domantas Sabonis, but I digress.
The league — especially small markets — always want to throw shade the Lakers way and this is no different. It doesn’t actually change anything, but it’s worth noting the stupidity of it.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our thoughts on George below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.