Several small market general managers have privately expressed outrage over what they believe is the NBA's unwillingness to enforce tampering rules following comments of LeBron James publicly endorsing the pursuit of Anthony Davis.
Several GMs reached out to Dell Demps of the Pelicans to express dismay over James' comments.
"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."
The NBA bylaws governing players state: "Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager, or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services shall, on being charged with such tampering, should be given an opportunity to answer to such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained ..."
Demps declined to comment to ESPN on the impact of James' public endorsement of a Davis deal.
League executives believe the NBA needs to start holding players responsible for public comments the way they do owners and management.
"If these are the rules, enforce them," one Western Conference GM told ESPN. "If you want to push Anthony Davis in L.A., if you allow LeBron to interfere with teams, then just do it. Change the rules, and say, 'It's the wild, wild west and anything goes.'
"But give us a list of the rules that you're enforcing, and give us a list of the rules that you're going to ignore."
An NBA spokesman told ESPN on Friday: "Each case is assessed on its own facts. In general, absent evidence of team coordination or other aggravating factors, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team's player."
Some believe the NBA is predisposed for craving the drama and storylines of free agency and trades.
"There is no confidence among most of us -- if not all of us -- that the league cares about protecting our interests," one small-market GM told ESPN. "It's hard enough already to hold onto the kind of players we need to try and win with -- but [the league] doesn't do anything to help."