The NBA announced Wednesday that they have fined Miami Heat President Pat Riley $25,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. The rule violation stemmed from comments surrounding Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Tampering rules are meant to prevent team officials from publicly discussing players on other teams, similar to anti-recruitment rules in the NCAA. In his comments, Riley said he would “leave the key under the doormat” if James ever wanted to return to the Heat.
While seemingly harmless, the comments are a violation of the anti-tampering policy, which the NBA has cracked down on in recent years.
The league’s obsessive behavior over tampering rules — even though they’ve existed for a long time — started during Magic Johnson’s tenure as the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations. Johnson was fined multiple times for making passive remarks about opposing players, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Then, there was backlash from the Lakers and their fans that the tampering rules were not being enforced evenly, and that L.A. was being fined for things that were happening all over the NBA.
Instead of abandoning tampering rules altogether, the league decided to double down, fining anyone who even remotely broke the league’s policy. Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey was recently fined $75,000 for a social media post joking that Stephen Curry should join his brother Seth in Philadelphia.
Doc Rivers, Rob Pelinka and others have been fined for silly things like this in recent years, always leading to a minor uproar from fans about the ridiculousness of tampering rules. It’s especially absurd when considering the fact that tampering rules don’t apply to players, meaning they can do and say whatever they would like in an effort to recruit others.
Riley did not mean anything sinister by suggesting he would welcome James back with open arms on the Heat. But, at the very least, the NBA is being consistent now when it comes to punishing team officials.
Pelinka discusses pride in keeping Lakers developed young players
While Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso enter free agency — and trade rumors once again swirl around Kyle Kuzma — Pelinka gave some thoughts that may lead people to believe that all three will be in L.A. next season.
“So the goal is to try to keep that core group together and of course with players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, players that you draft or bring into your two-way system and groom and develop, there’s a level of pride in that and what the Lakers have been able to do with those players and to grow them.”
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