NBA released a statement yesterday saying that they will begin an investigation regarding the alleged tampering of Paul George by the Los Angeles Lakers following the request made by the Indiana Pacers. The Lakers denied the accusations, saying they expect everything to be sorted out soon since there is no evidence of tampering. It is believed that Magic Johnson, Lakers president of basketball operations, is at the center of the investigation.
Pacers suspect that Magic Johnson made a contact with Paul George while he was still their player. Under the regulations, officials of NBA teams can’t make any contacts with players (or their agents) about the possible move until the players’ free-agency year opens on July 1.
Paul George, 4 times NBA All-Star and the 10th pick in 2010 NBA draft, still had one year of his contract remaining but made it clear he doesn’t intend to sign an extension with Indiana Pacers and that his preferred destination is Los Angeles. This put Indiana Pacers in an awkward position, forcing them to choose between playing George for another year and losing him for nothing or trading him to another club. His publicly stated desire that he wants to play for Lakers didn’t help in the process, with the majority of teams unwilling to give up major assets for a player that would walk on them after a year. Oklahoma City Thunder was one of the teams willing to take a risk, sending Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indiana in exchange for George.
Several sources are saying that Pacers intended to file the charges even before they made a trade with OKC. If the tampering turns out to be true, LA Lakers could be in for a severe punishment. This includes losing draft picks, not being allowed to sign Paul George in the future or receiving a financial fine.