At some point each season, the NBA investigates or alludes to the possibility that a team is tampering with a player already signed to another team.
Magic Johnson has been a busy man since taking over the reigns of the Lakers franchise and there has been much discussion about Paul George coming there either via a trade or during 2018 free agency.
Theres no mystery that’s where George wants to play, and it’s no mystery that the Lakers are pursuing the California kid and have plans of adding him to a young roster that is all of a sudden burgeoning with talent and hope with the arrival of Lonzo Ball. Magic has been setting up the chessboard and clearing space for an all-out attempt at bringing George and possibly LeBron James in for 2018.
The possibility of impermissible contact between Lakers president of basketball operations and the four-time All-Star is at the heart of an NBA probe into possible tampering.
According to the @Pacers (aka piece of franchise) this is tampering Paul George #LakeShow https://t.co/Tsb8UgQLjh
The Indiana Pacers filed tampering charges with the NBA against the Lakers, and the league is checking into the accusations. The Lakers, of course, have denied any allegations and they expect to be cleared in the matter.
“As the NBA’s statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation,” the Lakers said in a statement. “We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible.”
The drama involving George — who informed Indiana that he wouldnt be returning in 2018, thus forcing a trade to the Oklahoma — was first reported by Peter Vecsey.
NBA investigating Lakers 4 purported tampering w PGeorge. Independent law firm handling interviews of Buss, Magic. https://t.co/MnaPpaFUJh
Teams are always being accused of tampering in the NBA and rarely if ever are they found guilty. The burden of proof is on the league and unless someone from the Lakers organization admits to it or there is some kind of paper trail, it will eventually fall upon deaf ears.
If the Lakers are found to be guilty, it can cost them draft picks and money. If theres proof that a side deal was made with George, it can cost them the ability to sign him in free agency. Teams are accused of it often, but its rare that the league can prove that a team tampered with a player before free agency started.
The NBA is using the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to probe the matter, the NBA said.
Team officials aren’t allowed to make contact with players or their agents to discuss future plans unless it’s after the opening of the players’ free agency year on July 1.
That doesnt mean they cant send a player or a friend to negotiate for them. That loophole causes concern for the league, as low-profile teams like the Pacers are being hurt by potential backdoor deals to facilitate trade requests and opt-out plans between teams, agents and players with a few years left on their deals.
Owners can try and prove tampering all they want, but the real issue is the relationships that players are forging and how they want to control their own destiny.