LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers have been fined $500,000 for violating the anti-tampering rule, the NBA announced.
The league said the fine was a result of communication between Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and representatives for Paul George, while the All-Star forward was still under contract with the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers filed formal tampering charges and Thursday’s fine followed an investigation conducted by the independent law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
The fine also reflected a previous warning issued by the NBA to the Lakers regarding tampering, following comments made during an April 20 national television appearance by Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the team’s president of basketball operations.
The investigation did not reveal evidence of an agreement or understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire George.
“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.”
The league’s anti-tampering rule prohibits teams from interfering with other clubs’ contractual relationships with NBA players. This includes 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.
The Pacers dealt George to the Oklahoma City Thunder on June 30 in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.
George, who is from Palmdale, Calif., previously mentioned his admiration of Lakers legends Johnson and Kobe Bryant