Lakers Fined $500,000 For TamperingNBA Takes This Offense Seriously
September 7, 2017
When I heard the NBA was going to investigate the Indiana Pacers’ claim that the Lakers had tampered with one of their players, Paul George I thought it was a weak case. My reasoning was that George, who grew up in Southern California, has been telling everyone for the last year or two that he intended to sign with the Lakers when his contract expires in 2018. What could the Lakers add to that?
But when the NBA announced last Thursday that they have fined the Lakers $500,000 I listened closely to their reasoning. Now I believe the league is merely pointing out that the Lakers made a big mistake and deserve a penalty. George was unhappy last season when the Pacers were quickly eliminated in the playoffs. He seemed to believe they hadn’t surrounded him with enough quality teammates. Then the Pacers, realizing he’d be leaving in a year, decided to get something for him and they traded George to Oklahoma City for two players. It becomes Oklahoma City’s problem to see if the Thunder can make him happy enough to stay beyond one year or not. But in their complaint the Pacers made some points that are hard to dispute,
It had been reported recently that Magic Johnson was the subject of their complaint for talking about George, giving the strong impression the Lakers would welcome him. But in last week’s announcement the NBA pointed out that Rob Pelinka, a longtime agent who has become the Lakers’ general manager, discussed George with the players’ agent. Johnson and Pelinka are newcomers to their jobs, Johnson was a great player and Pelinka has been a successful agent for 20 years. But rules are rules and the NBA obviously feels rules must be upheld. :We made a mistake and it’s on my watch,” said Johnson. “I’ve asked Jeanie (Buss, Lakers owner) to take ut out of my salary. She did nothing wrong.”I think the Lakers will do well in upcoming years with Johnson and Pelinka bringing in talent.
But how would the Lakers had liked it if teams were courting their players – teams indicating they’d gladly welcome Kobe or Shaq or Kareem or all the way back to Magic, Gail Goodrich and others? They wouldn’t have liked it at all and maybe they would have been the team filing a complaint. Now that the Lakers have an outstanding passer in Lonzo Ball they would be doing very well if they had George, a 6-foot-7 outstanding shooter. Will it happen? We’ll see.