Despite the improvement the Los Angeles Lakers have shown this season, they’ve been unable to escape the shadow that’s been cast by the prospect of which 2018 NBA free agents they’ll pursue. At the forefront of those conversations are LeBron James and Paul George.
With James and the Cleveland Cavaliers making their lone trip to Los Angeles this weekend, a Lakers fan arranged for billboards to be plastered across the city as a means of recruiting him to sign with the storied franchise this summer.
“I did hear that,” answered Lakers head coach Luke Walton when asked at Wednesday’s shootaround if he was aware of the billboards. But Walton wasn’t willing to go any further.
“We’ve been fined too many times,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not talking about anybody that’s not on our roster.”
The Lakers were fined a record $500,000 for believed impropriety with George last summer, and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s praise of Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo earned the team a $50,000 fine.
Johnson admitted to being surprised by the latest punishment, which NBA commissioner Adam Silver later explained was in large part due to the Lakers’ previous misstep.
When reminded the NBA’s tampering rule applies to front office personnel, Walton still wasn’t willing to budge. “Get it in writing and show it to me,” he joked.
“What I was told that if you’re playing that team, you can talk about somebody. So ask me Saturday, then I can answer your question.”