Technically speaking, the NBA does have a rule that forbids players from talking about teaming up while under contract with another team. That rule has been mostly ignored for roughly, well, forever, as superstars have flexed their agency and leverage over the league by building friendships and then, in some cases, teaming up.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, some executives around the league have drawn the line at [checks notes] LeBron James answering a direct question about Anthony Davis.
Several GMs told ESPN that they reached out to New Orleans Pelicans GM Dell Demps to express dismay over what they perceive as the NBA’s tacit endorsement of James’ comments to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin calling the possibility of Davis’ arrival as “amazing” and “incredible.”
”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’s hard to take any such gripe seriously when prior to James “tampering,” Giannis Antetokounmpo literally told Anthony Davis to come play with him in Milwaukee. Damn, big markets like Milwaukee(?) strike again, I guess.
Giannis Antetokounmpo exiting Fiserv Forum, sees Anthony Davis in the hall. “Come to the Bucks, man,” Giannis says, smiling. “Come to the Bucks.” Both laugh. #recruiting— Steve Aschburner (@AschNBA) December 20, 2018
For a portion of the country that loves to share stories of perseverance against all odds, they certainly do their fair share of whining about those big, bad, scary coastal elites they love to call soft at every turn.
And to further emphasize that this is just a bunch of precedent-less whining, the NBA released a statement on the subject.
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
Translation: We’ve heard your concerns but frankly... Go away.
Let’s just say the NBA took
this bitching these complaints seriously. It would be literally damn near impossible to enforce these rules in any serious way. At All-Star Games, would the players be closely monitored to make sure they don’t get along too well?
Would the NBA dare take on the various agencies that have played a huge part in the building the culture that exists today?
Hell, would the NBA step in and penalize journalists who ask players the kinds of questions that James garnered the response from James that has all these executives in a tizzy?
All this is laughable. The idea that Anthony Davis would leave New Orleans because he heard LeBron James say it would be fun to play with him and not because, among other reasons, for a portion of his career there, the Pelicans shared parts of a training staff with the New Orleans Saints because their owner was too cheap to pay for two full medical staffs.
No, seriously, that really happened.
Sure, winning a single playoff series in five years of one of the most promising young careers the NBA has ever seen might be a tough look, but what about that one time LeBron said nice things about Davis? Can’t someone stop him? These teams have to be allowed to keep their stars
despite rampant incompetence!
It doesn’t seem like anything is seriously going to come of this because of the can of worms it would open. But good lord, small markets, have some self-respect.