Lakers Fined $500K for Tampering in Paul George Case

Darius Soriano —  August 31, 2017

The league office, via the independent investigation they instituted at the behest of the Indiana Pacers, have fined the Lakers $500K for tampering. Here is their statement:

First things first, I’m glad this is now over. Tampering allegations are serious and can carry a burden of uncertainty and worry while investigations are under way. The fact the league has now issued a ruling allows for things to return to a bit of normalcy.

Second, while a $500K fine is significant, it’s much lower than the maximum allowed $5 million. It’s more than other teams have been fined in the past, but not so huge a number to reflect anything more than the NBA really telling the Lakers they messed up by acting outside the lines of the rules.

I’d add, too, that for a big market, huge revenue producing team like the Lakers, $500K is something I do believe they’ll happily eat that to make this go away. It’s not a small number, but…remember, the Lakers pay upwards of $50 million a year to the league in revenue sharing. They have a local TV deal that pays them (reportedly) $200 million a year and up to $5 billion over 20 years. The Lakers, when looked at from this angle, print money. Again, this isn’t to diminish the amount of the fine, but it does put it into perspective.

Lastly, a key line from the NBA’s statement is that “The investigation did not reveal evidence of an agreement or understanding the Lakers would sign or acquire Mr. George.” In other words, they may have spoken with George and/or his representatives, but they did not make an illegal deal. That’s why this punishment is only a fine. If the league had more dirt, the Lakers would have been hit harder. Not just a higher dollar fine, but likely draft pick compensation and, potentially, an inability to sign George at all…ever.

None of that happened. So, all in all, this might be the best case scenario. After all, we knew the Lakers tampered. Magic Johnson going on TV and talking about another team’s player is tampering. Any logical playing out of this was going to have the Lakers getting punished in some way. Fining them, then, is about the best anyone can hope for.


Darius Soriano

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to Lakers Fined $500K for Tampering in Paul George Case

  1. However, it was stated that the Lakers were given a warning about Magic’s joking behavior on live TV, so that issue would have then been resolved as they were warned instead of fined for it. This fine was for a clearly different communication only. Anyway – whew, glad that’s over!

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  2. I am wondering how much this fine will affect our chances of signing George. While neither side are hindered from hooking up, perception is everything. Do the Lakers hold off to avoid any negative impressions? Does Paul George cross the Lakers off because it might negatively impact his brand appeal?

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    • Unless PG and Russ fall in love in OKC, George will be a Laker.

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    • No and no. Not even close to problematic.
      Not even my super square mom is THAT straight laced!
      This is a total relief. I’d have to say it amounts to a slap on the wrist compared to what could’ve happened.
      Here’s to hoping Magic is a bit more discreet in the future – although the fine did result from Pelinka making inappropriate contact with PG’s agent, still Magic needs to tone it down as the league referenced his tv expression of interest in PG.

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  3. No biggie. Glad this is behind us. Was really getting tired of it dominating the discussion (elsewhere) and inciting wet dreams among fans of other teams hoping for the absolute harshest penalties to be imposed on the Lakers.

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  4. Looks like the Lakers are now all set to sign Paul George next year!
    Lebron also is in sight!

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  5. A Horse With No Name August 31, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Here’s to ‘Pacers Fan’ who really called it in the prior thread (On the lakers, PG and tampering). What a troll.

    JeffT: This fine affects nothing in terms of the odds of signing George. The lakers and PG do not care about perceptions. Perceptions are flimsy and fleeting fodder. If PG signs with the lakers it will be because he wants to be a laker and the team wants the same. Simple. I’d say the odds remain high he’s on his way.

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  6. So it is against the rules to say to tell an agent that you like Paul George? Every GM likes Paul George!

    Reaction from fans will be muted since it was Pelinka who screwed up. If it was Magic the pitchforks would be out. You would expect Magic to be beloved (most fun and maybe best Laker player ever) and respected (successful businessman after his career). The relationship is far more complicated – and it is not neccesarily fair to Magic.

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    • Tom Daniels, read the NBA communication Darius posted; it specifically references Magic being a blabbermouth on tee vee, as well as a an inappropriate expression of interest by Pelinka in PG. Both Pelinka and Magic are thereby implicated. This does not constitute the use of pitchforks by the fan base; it’s simply pointing out what the NBA has asserted in this matter.
      And yes, it is against the rules for certain people to express interest in a player under contract to a team. Again, read the communication.

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      • R, I understand that it IS against the rules. I just think the rule is a little bit ridiculous and inflexible. I don’t excuse Pelinka – hence I said he “screwed up” – I just think that in reality expecting teams that deal with agents all the time to never mention the agent’s players they like is sort of unrealistic.

        My point on Magic. – if he had made the contact that Pelinka made there would be a more forceful reaction.

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  7. Good analysis. I’d call it a slap and a wink–but I’m sure they have no regrets. The Lakers needed some credibility at the time, and the interest of George coming here was perfect for regenerating the Laker brand.

    Though nothing is ever sure until it happens, It seems most likely that Paul George will come to the Lakers–but any thing might happen. We might not even want him by then.

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  8. Oh, and Magic previously got the Lakers fined when he had an honorary VP position with the Lakers and tweeted the Lakers should recruit Durant and LBJ.
    Only problem: those guys were under contract at the time, to other teams.

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  9. I agree with the Sports Business minds..it’s done all the time and usually the League looks away, but Magic did it on National TV. Players are allowed to recruit each other, and ‘act’ like they were the only ones talking (Harden/Paul)…Legalize it and be done.

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  10. I’m honestly a little surprised that Pelinka left anything behind to get in trouble with in the first place. He was supposed to be the guy who knew how to do this without getting caught. I’m not at all surprised that small-market teams went directly to the NBA to try to make trouble though. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I think it might be appropriate for Jeanie to start playing hardball at the owner’s meetings. It would appear that doing right by the league in the last couple CBA’s hasn’t been worth very much to the other owners.

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    • As K pointed out, Magic did his tampering publicly and blatantly – on TV.
      As I’ve pointed out, Magic has tampered in a very public way – twice. The other time(s) were via twitter. Both occasions generated fines for the Lakers. This didn’t leave Pelinka much cover, IMO.
      Seems like the league is sending a message. Will it be received and understood?

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  11. For a measly $ 500 grand, Pacers lost their Lakers link in the future. Should they need players to trade, Magic will bypass Indiana.

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  12. If no team tampers, or no GMs talk to agents still under contract, then how do new free agents get signed at 12:01 on the first day of free agency?

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  13. Is there any chance that Lebron gives the Lakers a discount in signing with them? I would like the Lakers to sign Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and LBJ. Lord knows that Lebron doesn’t need the money and even if he takes less from the Lakers he would likely more than make that incremental difference up by being in LA. Heck he could take one trip to China with Kobe and rake in gobs of cash.

    Yes, getting all three virtually guarantees that the Lakers lose Randle and Clarkson but you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

    I envision the Lakers starting line up in 2018/19 would be:
    SF: Ingram
    PF: Lebron
    C: Cousins
    PG: Ball
    SG: George

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  14. A lot of the complaining on this site about the tampering wrist slap seems to be along the lines of “everybody else is doing it”. Well, it’s neither here nor there if everybody else is doing it. If you doubt my words, please try talking yourself out of a a speeding ticket if you ever get pulled over.
    When grown ups get in trouble, they take ownership and try to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Magic should try this! It’s a nice skill to have – to know when to keep ones mouth shut. So far, Magic has generated two fines for the Lakers because he shoots his mouth off. If he continues down this path, it’s easy to predict the punishments will get increasingly severe.

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  15. In my opinion, the legal team of the Lakers was weak during the time of David Stearns when CP3 trade was disallowed to LA. They bowed their heads and admitted Stearns was right. The same is true with this tampering issue that only Magic/Pelinka got the hefty fine. Let’s call a spade a spade in exposing the league’s penchant for tampering only with the Lakers while many teams were equally guilty when GMs’ expressed their plans to agents and target players under contract. They quacked on their plans to trade their draft picks picked up in the rumor mill by Hoopshype and other sites. Who were the guilty parties in quacking and re-quacking. Those sites should be investigated and cleaned up to set a transparent policy on tampering. I’m not saying that Magic and Rob are not guilty but it has to be applied fairly across the board and exposed the banalities in NBA. Lakers should not just always absorbed the blame for others. Fight back, being a bona fide member of the league. Small markets loved to trample the Lakers when they were down and envy them on the way up, those are just the facts of life being one of the sports capital in the world.

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  16. A Horse With No Name September 1, 2017 at 11:38 am

    My conspiracy theory is that Pelinka took one for the team. Magic is a league icon, now back in the game and in a high profile position as the lakers new President of Basketball Ops. The league loves their icons and wouldn’t want Magic’s mistakes to tarnish his legacy or the new exciting Ball era. Pelinka is just a management dude. He can afford the hit.

    Magic is kind of dumb: he’s already cost the lakers before and should have known better than to get cute on the air. Not a fan of Magic the basketball exec. He should offer to pay the fine.

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  17. Everyone does it.

    It’s only that the NBA had to respond to the Pacers, rat fink accusation.

    They’ve painted themselves into a corner for the future, as all other teams will continue business as usual.

    Just a bit more under the radar.

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  18. Far worse probably goes on than a team contacting another players agent and saying, ” hey, I know the player you represent is under contract and I don’t want to do anything to compromise that, but next year when he is not under contract, let us make an offer because we think he would really make a contribution to our up and coming team of youngsters.” That hardly seems like some collusion or something worse going on? Thank goodness the league decided the Lakers only had one foot out of bounds and it was no worse than that. Now, let’s go play some basketball! ??

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  19. Seriously this is much to do about nothing. You can tell the doldrums have set in when we dig into a light perception sleep on the wrist. These guys all know each other. Only thing that mattered was a potential side agreement, no evidence of one case closed

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