As we learned over the weekend, the Lakers are under investigation by the NBA for alleged tampering, with the Pacers questioning L.A.’s involvement in the Paul George situation that continues to play out as he nears 2018 free agency. Although the league only confirmed the news on Sunday, the Pacers initiated the investigation around the time of the 2017 draft, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Indiana reached an agreement a week after the draft to trade George to Oklahoma City.
As we wait to see how the situation plays out, here are a few items of interest related to the investigation:
- ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Bobby Marks have a full FAQ on the investigation, exploring how often tampering charges pan out, and what the penalties typically are in those situations. As Marks notes, teams like the Hawks and Kings have been fined for tampering in recent years, while the Timberwolves faced a much steeper penalty when they were found to have entered into an illegal contract agreement with Joe Smith in the late 1990s — Minnesota lost five first-round picks. If the Lakers are disciplined for tampering, I’d imagine the penalty would look much more like the one levied on Atlanta and Sacramento.
- We should stop pretending that the NBA cares about its tampering rules, Kevin O’Connor argues in a piece for The Ringer, pointing out that every team is in contact with player agents before free agency officially opens on July 1. Tom Ziller makes a similar case in an article for SBNation.com., writing that what constitutes tampering is “fuzzy and subjective.”
- Addressing the Lakers/Pacers case specifically, here’s what one agent told O’Connor: “[Lakers GM Rob] Pelinka for sure knows how to tamper without getting caught. Pelinka will do whatever it takes to get players. [President of basketball operations] Magic [Johnson] could easily have done something dumb and got caught for it, though.”
- It will be virtually impossible to prove the Lakers legitimately tampered with George unless the team left a “paper trail,” says Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk.