A report came out on Saturday that the Los Angeles Lakers will be investigated by the NBA for tampering with Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George, who was under contract with the Indiana Pacers at the time.
That report was confirmed on Sunday, as the Executive Vice President of Communications with the NBA Mike Bass issued a statement saying that an official investigation is underway at the request of the Pacers.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is the main person being investigated, although the NBA has said that there hasn’t been any findings yet.
While the NBA has asked both teams to refrain from comment on the situation while the investigation is ongoing, according to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN the Lakers are denying that any tampering took place and believed the matter will eventually be cleared:
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.
It has been known for a while that George and the Lakers have mutual interest when he becomes a free agent, but if the Lakers are found guilty of tampering the consequences could be severe and could included forfeiting draft picks, not being allowed to sign George next summer, or fines and suspensions for the people who were tampering.
For that to happen the investigation would have to reveal some substantial evidence that tampering took place though, which won’t be easy to do.
The Lakers front office worked hard this summer to clear up cap space in 2018 to pursue George and another max caliber player though, so if the tampering allegations prove to be true then they will have to make changes to those plans, perhaps pursuing some of the other big-name free agents like Russell Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins.