The Los Angeles Lakers’ overextended courtship of Paul George this summer will cost them — but not too dearly.
The NBA on Thursday announced it has fined the Lakers $500,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. The punishment came after an investigation by an independent law firm, which found that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had illegal contact with George’s agent by expressing interest in the All-Star forward while he still was under contract with the Indiana Pacers.
The league also noted it had issued L.A. a warning for tampering after Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson brought up George during an April 20 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
The good news for L.A., though, is that the NBA did not find evidence of an “agreement or understanding” between the Lakers and George that he’d sign there once his contract expires in 2018. If the league had found such evidence, it likely would have prevented L.A. from signing George as a free agent once he hits the market.
Of course, $500,000 is no slap on the wrist, and the Lakers are the first NBA team to be punished for tampering since 2013. That said, Thursday’s ruling means the team still can pursue the Oklahoma City Thunder forward next summer if he opts out of the last year on his deal, keeping alive the team’s dream of bringing George back to his hometown.
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