Does LeBron James's roster feature a notable number of ... prospective teammates for the King?

By Emily Caron
February 07, 2019

All-Star Game captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo exchanged tampering jabs during their All-Star Weekend team draft on Thursday night ... as James drafted a starting lineup made almost entirely of soon-to-be-free-agent players.

After LeBron picked Pelicans' Anthony Davis as his first reserve teammate, Giannis coyly asked the King, "Isn't that tampering?" 

James played along saying, "The tampering rule does not apply on All-Star Weekend."

Antetokounmpo's question alluded to accusations that James had violated the NBA's tampering rule earlier this season when he told ESPN that it would be "incredible" to play with AD. James also reportedly took Davis out for a postgame dinner in Los Angeles after New Orleans visited Staples Center.

When Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans before Thursday afternoon's deadline, Los Angeles looked to be a likely landing spot for the star center. New Orleans was disappointed with the Lakers' offers and no deal was ultimately reached in time.

The perceived tampering by LeBron and the Lakers prompted an NBA memo that reminded teams of the league's "anti-tampering rule."

James denied the accusations at the time–but the 15-time All-Star took advantage of his All-Star draft to do a little more damage by drafting his own "Team Tamper."

Five out of James's first six selections will all hit the free agency market in 2019: his first pick, Kevin Durant; his second pick, Kyrie Irving; his third pick, Kawhi Leonard; Davis, who was his fifth pick and first reserve selection and Klay Thompson, the sixth pick on James's Team Tamper. 

Giannis dubbed his squad "Team Length," taking Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D'Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry and Dirk Nowitzki. 

True to draft form, the opportunity to trade then resulted in James and Antetokounmpo trading Simmons (who James referred to as "his guy") for Russell Westbrook.

The two teams will meet in Charlotte on Sunday, Feb. 17 for the All-Star game.

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