On Thursday, the league announced that it will fine the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 for violating the NBA’s rules against tampering in an investigation involving Oklahoma City Forward Paul George. Through the investigation, there seems to be clear evidence that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka expressed interest in acquiring George while he was still a member of the Indiana Pacers.
It was also made clear that the league had warned the Lakers on the seriousness of the matter after team president Magic Johnson had made inappropriate comments about George during a session of Jimmy Kimmel Live in April.
Back in June, George had requested a trade from Indiana, and it was rumored that the Lakers were in the mix of destinations he would prefer to end up in.
“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan. I idolized Kobe [Bryant],” George said. “There will always be a tie here, a connection here. People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city. But it’s definitely been overstated. For me, it’s all about winning.”
The Pacers had requested for the NBA to look into this matter a few weeks ago, but was the punishment serious enough?
In all reality, the NBA could have very well prohibited any possibility of George playing for the Lakers in the future. Seeing that an informal agreement would have needed to take place between the two sides, the league instead opted to fine the Lakers franchise for their actions. With no real consequences taking place, the Lakers may have gotten into George’s ear enough to have him seriously consider coming to the west coast.
George is set to become an unrestricted free agent by the end of the upcoming season, and many are calling him a current “rental” to the Thunder. The 27-year old has noted that he prefers to win and create a legacy for himself, and Lakers have instead focused on rebuilding with younger and more durable pieces.
What if the Lakers put out enough potential for George to depart from the Thunder after this season? Doesn’t the $500,000 fine seem worth the communication? The Lakers have one of the youngest and most diverse rosters in the NBA, so it’s fair to say that George will at least consider wearing purple and gold in 2018.
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