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James rejects ‘tampering’ charge over praise of Pels’ Davis

Lakers star LeBron James guards Anthony Davis of New Orleans in Los Angeles’ 112-104 NBA victory over the Pelicans © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Harry How

LOS ANGELES, United States, Dec 22 – Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James scoffed at the notion he was violating NBA rules when he told reporters it would be “amazing” to play alongside New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.

Davis has been the subject of trade rumors recently, and Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters on Friday morning that he believed James’s comments should count as “tampering” — defined by the NBA as attempting to entice a player under contract to negotiate with another team regarding his services.

“I thought if you talk about a player under contract, it was tampering. But that’s just me,” Gentry said. “I’ve only been in the league 31 years. What do I know?”

The coach seemed to walk back that opinion later Friday, as the Pelicans prepared to take on the Lakers at Staples Center, acknowledging that if James was asked the question by reporters, it would be hard for him not to respond.

“I think it puts him in a bad situation,” Gentry said.

After the Lakers’ 112-104 victory over the Pelicans, James made it clear just how silly he thought any tampering accusation was.

“Ask me, ‘Would I like to play with Kevin Durant?’ Ask me right now,” James told a reporter in the locker room.

She didn’t have time to get the whole question out before James said: “Absolutely! Ask me if I’d like to play with Jimmy Butler. Say it right now.

“Ask me about Kyrie Irving. Giannis (Antetokounmpo). Ask me about (Joel) Embiid. Ben Simmons. Go ahead, all of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now.

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“Come on guys, it’s not rocket science,” James added. “I would love to play with a lot of great players. That’s just who I am… And I play by the rules.”

Despite the rumors, and regardless of any blandishments Davis might hear from players on other teams, Gentry was adamant that the Pelicans wouldn’t part with their star.

“We’re not trading him,” Gentry said.

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