The Los Angeles Lakers are in the news for all the wrong reasons right now as the Indiana Pacers have filed tampering charges against them, alleging illegal contact with Paul George.
Most recently it has come out that the Pacers believe Magic Johnson may have called Paul George personally, which would be a major violation of NBA rules and cost the Lakers dearly. The question is whether or not the league will be able to find any evidence.
The Pacers obviously feel like the Lakers crossed the line which is why they filed charges and according to Bob Kravitz of WTHR in Indianapolis, they have some support from other small market teams around the league:
In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”
If this is in fact true, it would be pretty ironic as it is basically accepted around the league that most teams engage in some minor forms of tampering. In fact, it made news when it was revealed that the Lakers, under Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, actually refused to make any sort of contact to Kevin Durant’s agent ahead of his free agency in 2016.
Small market vs. big market will always be an argument as many teams lose star players to their big city counterparts. This summer saw Gordon Hayward leave Utah to head to Boston in the latest example, and the Lakers have always been viewed as the quintessential big market team who poaches stars from other squads.
Regardless of what teams are supporting the Pacers, the only thing that ultimately matters is what the investigation uncovers. Any major violation could see the Lakers potentially forfeit draft picks, front office staff could be suspended, or the franchise could be prevented from signing George outright.