While reports indicated Magic Johnson was at the center of the investigation, it turns out Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is the one who caused the franchise to be hit with the infraction. It was discovered that Pelinka made contact with Paul George’s agent and made a “prohibited expression of interest” in George, per the NBA’s statement.
It seems this isn’t the first time the league has needed to slap the Lakers on the wrist over George, with the league also issuing a warning to the Lakers following comments made by Magic Johnson regarding George “during an April 20 national television appearance.”
For those keeping track, that’s the day Magic was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live and made his infamous “wink-wink” gesture regarding tampering on the show.
The investigation also revealed that there was no evidence of any “agreement or understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire” George, which is a huge bullet for the Lakers to dodge. That may have lead to further punishments, including restricting the Lakers from signing George when he becomes a free agent.
This isn’t a great look for the Lakers, but it could have been much worse. A $500,000 fine is a small price to pay if the league did discover signs of tampering, and the Pacers got their wish by punishing the Lakers for overstepping their boundaries.
Here’s the full statement from the NBA regarding their investigation into the Lakers: