After being fined $500K for tampering with the Pacers and Paul George during the 2017 offseason, the Lakers have once again been penalized by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-tampering rules. The NBA announced today that the Lakers have been fined $50K for tampering related to Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The latest fine levied upon the Lakers by the NBA comes as a result of a recent interview between ESPN’s Nick Friedell and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. During that discussion, Johnson raved at length about Antetokounmpo’s talent and potential, comparing The Greek Freak’s game to his own.
“He plays above the rim. I never could do that,” Johnson said of Antetokounmpo. “But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That’s where we [have the] same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I’m just happy he’s starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he’s going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.”
While Johnson appears not to have learned his lesson after the Lakers were fined $500K for tampering with George last offseason, his comments on Giannis seem pretty innocuous, which is why this penalty is a slap on the wrist compared to that initial fine. Still, it serves as another reminder to Johnson and the Lakers’ front office to watch what they say going forward as they plot their next roster moves.