The Indiana Pacers are going to war with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers requested that the league open up a tampering investigation centered around whether Magic Johnson and the Lakers committed tampering in their pursuit of former Indiana standout Paul George, who is now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s a major allegation by the Pacers, and for some small- and mid-market teams, it’s something the league needs.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR in Indianapolis got the scoop that some folks involved with less-prominent NBA teams have reached out to Indiana and told them that they are fighting “the good fight” against big-market squads like Los Angeles.
Still, it’s necessary, and it’s especially necessary in a league where players are forever angling to align themselves with existing super teams. It’s especially necessary for small- and mid-market teams to hold big-market teams’ feet to the fire in these cases. All over the league, teams like Indiana, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake are losing their star players, creating a very uneven playing field and giving rise to the super team phenomenon. 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.”
Kravitz pointed out some of the possible repercussions that the Lakers could face if they’re found guilty — such as a fine of up to $5 million, suspensions of team executives, and forfeited draft picks. But the big one is that Los Angeles could possibly be banned from signing George next offseason, which would be a massive blow to the team and whatever future plans it may have.
So it makes sense that smaller teams would want to root the Pacers on, as it would keep one potentially major competitor out of the race for George next offseason. Small- and mid-market teams are always looking for ways to level the playing field with big-market squads, which also means that there’s an incentive for these teams to encourage Indiana to set a precedent about tampering that can be applied going forward.
No matter what happens, this seems like it could be a big moment for the league, as tampering allegations don’t come around every often. At the very least, we know what side that the small-market teams are on in this equation.