National Basketball Association Announces Los Angeles Lakers’ Punishment in Paul George Tampering Case

Today, the National Basketball Association (NBA) officially announced the punishment that the Los Angeles Lakers would receive in the Paul George tampering case. The league fined the Lakers $500,000 for violating the anti-tampering rule after it was found that the team’s general manager, Rob Pelinka, had contact with Paul George’s agent, Aaron Mintz.

This came after the NBA stated that they had previously warned the Lakers about violating the tampering rules after the team’s president, Magic Johnson, made nationally televised comments regarding George on Jimmy Kimmel Live (at 3:32 in the video below) on April 20. During that interview, he winked several times when answering a question about George and said that such a gesture would be understood by him.

The NBA said in their statement that Pelinka’s contact with Mintz “constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract.” Of course, this all came about earlier this month when the Indiana Pacers filed tampering charges against the Lakers with the league. The investigation into the team and its management was conducted by the independent law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

The NBA said in their statement, “The investigation did not reveal evidence of an agreement or understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire Mr. George.”

NBA legend Magic Johnson watches a game
Surprisingly Magic Johnson was not the one caught in the NBA's investigation [Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]

The tampering came about after George publicly declared in June that he would be opting out with the Pacers and let everyone know that the Lakers were his preferred destination. However, since he still had a year left on his contract, the Pacers still controlled where they could send the four-time All-Star.

George would end up being traded on July 6 to the Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside the reigning league MVP, Russell Westbrook. In return for George, the Pacers received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Many on Twitter voiced the belief that the Lakers got off easy with such as small fine, especially since the franchise is worth $3 billion according to Forbes. Obviously, many Lakers fans were happy to take the fine. It has been well known that they have been coveting the chance to acquire George, who is a local kid from Palmdale, a city in the center of northern Los Angeles County.

Paul George court-side before a Lakers game
Will Paul George go to L.A. or end up staying with OKC? [Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]

The possible penalties that the team could have had handed to them was a maximum $5 million fine, loss of future draft picks, suspension of the officials involved in the tampering, and even future restrictions on acquiring George if he were to become a free agent.

[Featured Image by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]