The NBA has officially fined the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. While it was no secret that the once heralded Western Conference franchise was under investigation by the league, such a fine stems from the team’s illegal interest in adding former Indiana Pacers and current Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George.
“The NBA announced [on Thursday] that it has fined the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule,” reads the league’s official statement regarding the matter. “This action followed an independent investigation by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
“The conduct at issue involved communications by Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka with the agent representing Paul George that constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract. The penalty reflected a previous warning issued by the NBA to the Lakers regarding tampering, following comments made by Lakers President of Basketball Operations Earvin Johnson about Paul George during an April 20 national television appearance.”
George was previously traded from the Pacers to the Thunder earlier in the offseason while Los Angeles has seemingly always remained a focus of the All-Star forward — even now.
“The investigation did not reveal evidence of an agreement or understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire Mr. George,” the statement continued.
“The NBA’s anti-tampering rule prohibits teams from interfering with other teams’ contractual relationships with NBA players, including by publicly expressing interest in a player who is currently under contract with another team or informing the agent of another team’s player of interest by one’s own team in that player.”