Ever since New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis publicly asked for a trade, the league has been abuzz about where he may end up. LeBron James and his Klutch Sports agency have been actively pushing for him to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the NBA finally announced a fine for a team on Monday for tampering.
Except it wasn’t for the Lakers; it was a $25,000 fine for Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, a source told ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
After Davis made his initial trade request, he said that he would be willing to sign a long-term extension with the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks. Some saw the list as an excuse to land with the Lakers, since the Knicks don’t have the trade pieces to make a trade (unless they land the No. 1 pick), the Clippers don’t have a good enough centerpiece and the Bucks don’t have enough value to trade unless they move the one guy they’re holding onto, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Lasry rightfully took Davis’ shoutout as a compliment to his team, and the Bucks reportedly came back to the Pelicans with an offer of anyone but Antetokounmpo for Davis. But apparently Lasry was not familiar at the time with the NBA’s anti-tampering rules that state: “no player, coach or management person may entice or induce a player under contract with another team to play for his team.”
Here’s what Lasry told Sporting News’ Mitch Lawrence after the Bucks’ win last Monday:
“I saw that report, and I think it’s great. It’s a little bit of what we want. We want players to come and play in Milwaukee. And part of it is, when you’re winning and you’re setting a standard for excellence, people see that. People want to win.
“It doesn’t make a difference if you’re in Milwaukee, New York or LA. The whole goal is winning. So we hope it would be players like Anthony Davis and others who want to come to Milwaukee.”
That’s about as blatant as you can get as far as discussing another team’s player, and Lasry even potentially got off lightly based on past precedent. Lakers president Magic Johnson was $50,000 in February 2018 for what effectively amounted to complimenting Antetokounmpo.
It should be noted, though, that Johnson’s fine came mere months after the league slapped the Lakers with a $500,000 fine for tampering with Paul George. Johnson had made comments about George on national television that drew a warning, and general manager Rob Pelinka communicated his interest to George’s agent shortly thereafter.
Are the Lakers at risk of getting fined as well?
Considering how the Lakers have been fined just last year for very similar behavior, it’s a little surprising that nobody in their front office has been fined for tampering with Davis as well. The NBA sent out a league-wide memo in late December reminding teams of the anti-tampering rules after James discussed his desire to play with Davis, and the league even fined Davis $50,000 for publicly asking for a trade.
Shortly after the trade deadline passed, Johnson was asked if he thought the Pelicans negotiated in good faith, and he said, “No.”
“We knew that basically at the end of the day, what happened, happened,” Johnson said on Sunday, via the Los Angeles Times. “And we knew that when we first started, in terms of what happened. But hey, it is what it is.”
Johnson has learned to be as vague as he can, but he’s clearly discussing an attempted trade for another team’s player. Considering the comments were made three days after Lasry spoke, it’s certainly not out of the question that the league could fine Johnson or the Lakers again.
Tampering came up with James once again when he and Antetokounmpo were drafting their All-Star teams. James picked almost every impending free agent and made Davis his top pick among reserves, which led to this tongue-in-cheek exchange with ESPN’s Ernie Johnson:
LeBron: I’m going with Anthony Davis
Ernie: Are you sure you want him to be your teammate
LeBron: I’m very sure of that
Giannis: Isn’t that tampering?
LeBron: Tampering rules do not apply on All-Star Weekend
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