EL SEGUNDO – The NBA Thursday fined the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule by contacting the agent of then- Indiana Pacer Paul George.
“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,” according to the NBA. “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.”
The league noted that the investigation — conducted by the New York City-based law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz — did not find any evidence of an agreement that the Lakers would acquire George, a four-time all-star who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 6 and could become a free agent following the 2017-18 season.
George, a Palmdale native, has long expressed interest in playing for the Lakers.
“We respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding this matter,” Pelinka said. “On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA.”
Adam Streisand, an outside attorney working with the Lakers, said the team “can assure the fans that the Lakers will be hyper-vigilant going forward to make sure this is never an issue again.”