NBA Investigating Lakers For Alleged Paul George Tampering Following Pacers’ Accusation
The NBA has opened an investigation into the Los Angeles Lakers for potentially violating the league’s tampering rules when attempting to sign Paul George in free agency from the Indiana Pacers, who filed the request for the league to launch a probe.
NBA Lakers Paul George tampering probe news
“The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made,” NBA Executive Vice President of Communications Mike Bass said on Sunday in a statement shared by USA TODAY Sports’s Sam Amick. “We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting while the investigation is ongoing.”
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) August 20, 2017
The New York law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is conducting the investigation following allegations of tampering, or influencing, raised by the Pacers.
George — a four-time All-Star and former first-round pick who had spent his first seven NBA seasons in Indiana — was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 6 for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Pacers swapped George after he told the team last season that he planned to leave Indiana as a free agent in the summer of 2018.
The Lakers released their own statement to respond to the tampering accusations on Sunday.
“As the NBA’s statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation,” Lakers spokeswoman Alison Bogli said. “We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible.” Southern California News Group NBA writer Bill Oram shared the statement:
Statement from the Lakers on tampering investigation: pic.twitter.com/Yd0z5nOtKp
— Bill Oram (@billoram) August 20, 2017
There have been rumors for quite some time that George has been interested in joining the Lakers. Under NBA rules, teams are not allowed to attempt to bribe or influence players in any way while they are under contract with another team.
Should the Lakers be found guilty of directly or indirectly tampering, the league could issue any combination of punishments like fines, forfeiture of draft picks or suspensions of those discovered to be involved.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said he believes the investigation into the Lakers’ potential tampering is ridiculous.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson — who rejoined the franchise’s front office in February — has publicly stated his interest in acquiring George repeatedly since then. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in February, Kimmel asked Johnson what constitutes tampering, and if he would be permitted to speak to George should they encounter each other.
“We’re going to say hi because we know each other,” Johnson said. “You just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you come to the Lakers,’ even though I’m going to be wink-winking. You know what that means, right?”
The Lakers legend seemed confident he had several different ways of openly recruiting George without violating the NBA’s tampering regulations.
Last season, George averaged a career-high 23.7 points per game. The 27-year-old forward said he is excited to join the Thunder.
“I’ve been wowed ever since we landed,” George said last month after arriving in Oklahoma City. “I got a real welcoming, and this feels like home.”
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 24: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers puts up a shot over Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards in the first half at Verizon Center on November 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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