The NBA announced that the Los Angeles Lakers have violated the league’s anti-tampering rule and will be fined $500,000. This is the conclusion of an investigation the Indiana Pacers asked the league to conduct.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) August 31, 2017
This all started when Paul George told the Pacers he would opt out of the final year of his deal and, if traded, preferred the Lakers. When word of this got out to the public it clearly impacted Indiana’s ability to get much back from a trade partner. Making matters worse was Magic Johnson’s memorable appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! discussing Paul George which many believed was at the heart of Indiana’s grievance but that’s far from the truth. The fine is in large part due to communications between Lakers’ General Manager Rob Pelinka and Aaron Mintz who represents Paul George. Teams are allowed to engage players under contract as long as they have permission from the player’s current team.
Lakers fined $500k, probably a relief to the organization. Penalty is actually on Pelinka for communication w/PG agent, Magic got warning
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) August 31, 2017
The Lakers could have faced a larger financial penalty including draft picks or lost the ability to sign George as a free agent. $500,000 is the second largest tampering fine assessed since the Minnesota Timberwolves were fined $3,500,000 and 5 first round draft picks. Forbes values the Lakers at $3 billion with annual revenue of $333 million, so they can absorb a financial penalty as well as any team in pro sports. However, this will be much worse should the league find the Lakers of any wrong doing in the future.
Rob Pelinka got caught playing a game he knows all too well. Agents are always doing what they can to get what their client wants. All teams likely “tamper” in some capacity but the league can’t have it become blatantly obvious. Rob and Magic will have to scale it back a bit as this certainly doesn’t help them gain any allies in other NBA front offices.