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LeBron’s Pursuit of Davis Heralds “Open Season” on Small Market Players

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According to Adrian Wojnarwoski of ESPN, LeBron’s pursuit of New Orleans’ superstar threatens smaller teams.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Lakers superstar LeBron James has not been shy about his desire for talented teammates, recently commenting on All-Star center Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, LeBron’s comments have not gone unnoticed by small-market GM’s across the NBA looking to protect their players. In an article today, Wojnarowski quotes executives frustrated with league policy, suggesting that James’ comments constitute tampering.

“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.”

After looking at league tampering rules and quoting a GM asking the league to make enforcement more standard, Wojnarowski quotes an executive who claims that, even if they don’t rise to the level of tampering, public statements like LeBron’s are part of a coordinated effort to harm opponents.

“Interference is as bad as tampering -- maybe worse in this case,” one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. “This becomes a campaign meant to destabilize another organization, install chaos and unrest that make it harder to keep an environment that the player would want to stay in. There’s no use in complaining to the league about it. We all get that it’s a players’ league, but there are rules on the books that they need to follow, too.”

Davis has two years remaining on his current contract following this season, but the 2020-21 year is a player option, meaning he could elect to become an unrestriected free agent in the summer of 2020.