NBA fines Lakers following Paul George tampering investigation

Utah Jazz v Indiana Pacers

The Los Angeles Lakers had a little more than their eye on soon-to-be free agent superstar Paul George this summer

The Indiana Pacers requested that the NBA investigate the Lakers for potentially violating tampering regulations in regards to their communications with George. The league agreed to launch a probe into the matter, and their findings are finally back. 

It seems the Pacers were barking up the right tree, and that it wasn't the first time the NBA has had to step in regarding the Lakers' interest in George. The league announced Thursday that evidence of tampering was discovered, and fined the Lakers accordingly.

Los Angeles was hit with a $500,000 fine - the largest fine the NBA has ever issued for tampering - following the investigation. Evidence of communication between Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and George's agent that fell into the "prohibited expression of interest" category. 

The NBA's statement also notes that a warning was issued to the Lakers following Magic Johnson's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The Lakers' president of basketball operations joked about "tampering" and being interested in George, which caused the league to step in. 

The fine, according to the NBA's statement, is also reflective of that warning already being in place. It's a hefty fine, but ultimately a small price to pay for the Lakers when considering the worst-case scenarios that could have been in play.

On top of a fine, the league could have suspended team executives, docked the franchise from future draft picks or placed restrictions on their eligibility to sign George once he becomes a free agent. In comparison, soaking a $500,000 fine is a blessing for the Lakers.

The league didn't find evidence that the Lakers and George had any future agreement or plans aligned, which limited the punishment delivered to Los Angeles. Pelinka released a brief statement on the findings, expressing "regret" over the situation. 

“We respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding this matter. On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA,” Pelinka said. 

It's unclear what was said by Pelinka, but the league did decide whatever it is they found wasn't worth hitting the Lakers with more than a record-setting fine. The Pacers, Lakers and NBA can all move on now, with Magic and Pelinka still heading toward the summer of 2018 with their eyes on the stars. 

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