Who’s wrong here — the Los Angeles Lakers, or Indiana Pacers?
In case you missed the story, broken by Hall-of-Fame NBA writer Peter Vecsey, here are the highlights (or perhaps lowlights):
1. The Pacers filed tampering charges against the Lakers.
2. The NBA has launched an investigation.
3. The Lakers have denied any hints of wrongdoing.
Of course, all of this is centered on All-Star forward Paul George, who told the Pacers in June that he would not re-sign with the team next summer. George, since traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after the season. While it’s hard to say what will transpire with the Thunder and reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, George has previously indicated he preferred to play with the Lakers.
According to Vecsey, the complaint alleges Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was guilty of “tampering” while George was still with the Pacers.
If found guilty, the Lakers could face any number of severe penalties — from hefty fines to a loss of draft picks. The league could even keep the Lakers from signing George in 2018.
Now, the question here is, what’s tampering and what is not? While the rule book is fairly direct (read: teams can’t talk to or about signing players while the player is under contract with another team), most fans and reporters are fairly clueless about what actually qualifies as a violation.
Apparently, so are most teams, and apparently, it’s becoming an issue.
According to ESPN, the Pacers’ tampering charges “represent a growing concern among many NBA teams that some potential suitors are reaching out to players and agents with one or two years left on current deals, trying to manipulate opt-outs and trades.”
But how do you view it? Is tampering an issue in the NBA? Are the Lakers bound to be found guilty? Or is this all much ado about nothing?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or just email your thoughts for the weekly mailbag — whether they be on the Lakers, the Pacers, George or tampering in general. We look forward to what you have to say.