The Los Angeles Lakers were recently accused by the Indiana Pacers of tampering with former Pacers All-Star Paul George, who has since been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Because of the accusation, the NBA began a private investigation on the Lakers, and eventually found that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had a conversation with George’s agent, Aaron Mintz, this summer, although Mintz also represents Lakers forward Julius Randle and former Laker D’Angelo Russell.
The result ended up being a $500,000 fine for the franchise, although it could’ve been worse if they lost draft picks or the ability to sign George in free agency next summer.
Tampering is not something new to the NBA, in fact, it is quite common as players, coaches and executives throughout the league admittedly often speak to other players and agents, according to report by Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:
“If you’re not cheating by the letter of the law,” says one former GM, “you’re not trying.”
Adds a current Eastern Conference GM: “You don’t get free agents without it. [Tampering] is what the whole league is built on. That’s the only way you can get anything done.”
Furthermore, executives throughout the league are very critical of Pacers owner Herb Simon for accusing the Lakers of something that just about every team does:
That’s why the executives contacted by B/R were surprised the Pacers demanded an investigation by the league at all. One called it “bush league.” Several others opined that the Pacers must’ve had some hard-proof evidence. Almost all presumed owner Herb Simon was simply too irate about George’s proclamation that he would leave in free agency to let him go quietly.
While the Lakers were fined by the league after the conclusion of the investigation, the matter may not be finished yet as it was recently reported that Simon may attempt to sue the Lakers and the league as he is not satisfied with the consequences the Lakers received.
But barring any more evidence nothing can be proved so the Lakers may be the ones getting the last laugh if they are able to sign George next summer.