New Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka’s contact with Paul George’s agent violated the NBA’s anti-tampering rule and resulted in a $500,000 fine for Los Angeles on Thursday.
The league said a law firm’s independent investigation didn’t find evidence of an agreement or an understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire George, who was with the Indiana Pacers at the time. George later was traded to Oklahoma City.
“We respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding this matter,” Pelinka said in a statement. “On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA.”
The league had warned the Lakers about tampering following comments by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson about George on national TV on April 20.
The league said Pelinka’s contact with George’s agent “constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract.”
Attorney Adam Streisand, who represents the Lakers, called the investigation thorough and said, “We can assure the fans that the Lakers will be hyper-vigilant going forward to make sure this is never an issue again.”
The NBA’s anti-tampering rule prohibits teams from interfering with other teams’ contractual relationships with NBA players.