Collusion and tampering seem to be a common occurrence in today’s NBA as players and opposing teams have secret conversations and let their intentions be known far before the July free agency period begins (think about how it is possible for a contract to be agreed to right at midnight on July 1), one of the most egregious instances of this sort of collusion, at least on the surface, apparently has some truth to it as the Pacers have filed tampering charges against the Lakers with Paul George.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 20, 2017
The Magic Man himself, Magic Johnson is at the center of these charges.
As we all know the NBA’s worst kept secret over the last few months of the 2016-17 season and leading up to the NBA Draft was PG-13’s desire and plan to sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 as a free agent, the situation was such that his trade value was lowered for the Pacers and the Lakers were barely willing to give up anything of value in a trade for George because of their confidence they could get him without having to give anything up in a year.
Then George was traded to the Thunder to team up with Russell Westbrook and the situation has changed a little bit, that doesn’t mean the tampering didn’t happen though.
Here is a press release from the NBA:
“At the request of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA opened an investigation into alleged tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers. The independent investigation is being conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting all the investigation is ongoing.”
Johnson is new to the front office gig and may have had a relationship or connection with George before taking the Lakers job, that doesn’t recuse him from recruiting him to the Lakers with more than a year left on his contract with the Pacers if that occurred.
Here is a statement from ESPN from the Lakers:
“The Lakers are denying the allegations filed by the Pacers, insisting that there is no evidence of tampering, and they expect to be cleared in the matter, a team source told ESPN.
If the league office’s probe can prove the Lakers were guilty of tampering with George while under contract with Indiana, Los Angeles can be punished in several ways, including a loss of draft picks, financial fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.”
We’ll see if anything comes of this or if it affects George’s decision to become a Laker next summer.