National Basketball Association fines LA Lakers $500000 for tampering

Had the investigation unearthed more detailed interaction between Los Angeles - like a commitment from either side to agree to a contract with the other - the Lakers could have lost draft picks, absorbed fines of up to $5 million, had future restrictions on acquiring George and/or faced possible suspensions on offending officials.

The NBA announced today that it has fined the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 for violating the league's anti-tampering rule. George was with the Indiana Pacers until earlier this summer when he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Will Paul George join the Lakers or end up staying with OKC?

In the end, the fine came down to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka's contact with George's agent.

This spring, the Lakers, Johnson and George were hardly shy about expressing their mutual admiration.

George informed the Indiana Pacers that he would not resign a deal after next season and had desired to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In showing that they are not too bent out of shape over the punishment, Lakers outside counsel Adam Streisand had this to say.

A nudge-nudge, wink-wink filled interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in April also attracted the league's interest.

"We can say, 'Hi, ' because we know each other", Johnson said.

"I had to go to CBA school, salary cap school, and tampering school", Johnson joked. "You can't tamper with somebody else's player". The NBA had already warned the Lakers about tampering, when team president Magic Johnson discussed George on national TV.

"As the NBA's statement made clear, we can not comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation", the Lakers said in a statement. Allegations are investigated and must be supported by evidence.

From a Lakers perspective, a $500,000 fine seems to be nothing more than a slap on the wrist. According to the investigation conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, and Katz, there was communication between the Lakers and representatives of PG13 while he's still under contract with the Pacers. The contact, which reportedly involved expressing interest in bring him to the Lakers, was prohibited since George was still under contract with another team.

Vanessa Coleman