The Los Angeles Lakers were recently forced to pay a $500,000 fine to the league as they were found guilty of tampering with former Indiana Pacers star Paul George.
The fine was a result of an investigation that found Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had conversations with George’s agent after Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was already warned when he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live that he would wink at George if he saw him on vacation.
Luckily for the Lakers the consequences were not worse, as it could’ve resulted in a loss of draft picks or the inability to sign George in free agency.
Johnson recently spoke for the first time after the conclusion of the investigation, taking responsibility for the matter, apologizing to owner Jeanie Buss and saying that he wants to pay the fine himself, via Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
“We can’t say a lot but we will correct the situation,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s under my watch. I apologize to Jeanie, and that was the main thing. I told her she could take it out of my salary because I don’t want the Lakers to be paying that fine. … I don’t want her spending $500,000, because she didn’t do anything. That’s on me.”
He also apologized to the Lakers fans and ensured them it won’t be happening again in the future:
Said Johnson on Monday: “We’re going to have meetings about it next week. … I’m gonna always care about the Laker brand, the Laker fans, so I apologize to them as well. The main thing is we’re going to move forward. We got 95% everything’s going great. This is the one thing that went bad. … This is something we can correct. Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner] is a great friend of mine. I’m glad he was able to do his job. Now I’m gonna do my job.”
Johnson and Pelinka have done a lot to change the culture within the franchise in the six months that they have been leading the front office, leaving Laker fans optimistic about what is to come in the future after the worst four season stretch in franchise history.
After a successful 2017 offseason they will look to do even more damage next summer when they will have the cap space to sign two max free agents, with George surely in their sights.