The Los Angeles Lakers are playing host to Paul George Wednesday night, with the Oklahoma City Thunder enjoying a two-day stay in Southern California. That’s led to the re-opening of the $500,000 wound the NBA dished out to the Lakers in relation to tampering allegations from the Indiana Pacers.
The NBA investigated the matter and, according to the official NBA press release, discovered communications between Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and George’s agent Aaron Mintz that would lead to the biggest fine in league history for tampering charges. This occurred back in August.
George spoke with media during morning shootaround in Los Angeles Wednesday and didn’t shy away from the situation. Instead, he offered up his own perspective on how it all played out, and it’s an... interesting... hole to tumble down.
As far as George sees it, there wasn’t any tampering between the sides. George’s relationship with former Pacers assistant coach, and current Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw caused Indiana to speculate there was some wrongdoing between the sides.
“They thought it was tampering, there was no tampering at all. It was kind of crazy, our relationship, mused and [Brian Shaw] was far more stronger than teams, me coming to the Lakers was. B-Shaw’s been a mentor for me, so it was kind of comical but we moved on,” George said, according to Bill Oram of the OC Register.
So, where did all this static come from? A fishing trip, of course.
“The Pacers thought that there was more in-depth of them trying to recruit me, which it wasn’t. The only thing me and B-Shaw ever spoke about was fishing, and challenge each other on fishing trips.
“B-Shaw has way, way, way better class than to try to recruit me,” George concluded.
This, of course, led to a full-blown investigation into #FishingGate from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:
Multiple sources tell ESPN that the league investigation found no evidence of tampering as it relates to Brian Shaw and Paul George. The league investigated their relationship this summer. Today George also publicly denied there was tampering in his... https://t.co/hhtnlqmoZU— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 3, 2018
Sources told ESPN that Shaw and George frequently went on father-son fishing trips during the summer, trading off between lakes in Indiana and Shaw's home in Oakland.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 3, 2018
After the Lakers were warned about tampering by the league following new team president Magic Johnson's cheeky comments on Jimmy Kimmel, Shaw reconsidered whether to participate in the fishing trip and in George's fishing competition, which was being held Aug 13 at Castaic Lake.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 3, 2018
The Lakers lawyers advised him not to participate in the event or go on the trip, while the tampering investigation was ongoing so Shaw did not go, sources said.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 3, 2018
As a reminder, here’s the full statement from the NBA after they fined the Lakers:
Per the NBA, Lakers fined $500,000 for tampering pic.twitter.com/MQ6rNxRwjq— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) August 31, 2017
The NBA’s statement points to this having nothing to do with Shaw and George, but some sort of communication between Pelinka and George’s agent. Connecting the dots, it seems likely that the relationship between Shaw and George triggered the Pacers to request an investigation, and while there may have been no outright wrongdoing on that front, they discovered something else during their digging.
It’s also worth noting that the NBA acknowledged they had previously warned the Lakers about tampering following Magic Johnson’s infamous wink on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which attributed to the decision to finally hit LA with a tangible punishment.
Just another day covering LA.