The NBA has fined the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 for violating the league's anti-tampering rules, the league announced on Thursday.
The penalty came as a result of Lakers GM Rob Pelinka making contact with Paul George's agent "that constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract."
The Lakers had been warned by the league after Magic Johnson's now infamous appearance on Jimmy Kimmel in which George's eventual free agency was a topic of discussion.
Another key finding: No evidence found that the Lakers have any kind of 'wink-wink' free agency agreement with Paul George, I'm told.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) August 31, 2017
As for infamous Magic interview w/ Jimmy Kimmel, league's view on that was, in essence, that it was in a joking manner & not out of bounds.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) August 31, 2017
The investigation did not reveal evidence of an agreement or understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire Mr. George," the statement said.
It's the largest fine for tampering in the NBA's history. The Joe Smith-Minnesota Timberwolves saga was considered salary cap circumvention and included direct evidence of an undisclosed written agreement between a team and a player.
George, who is a free agent following this season, made his intentions clear earlier this summer after he informed the Indiana Pacers he wouldn't be re-signing with them. They eventually dealt him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The NBA initiated the investigation at the behest of the Pacers.
The independent law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz spent two months investigating e-mails and phone records to ultimately determine the penalty.
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