The Lakers are under investigation for allegedly tampering with former Pacers star Paul George, per Indiana’s request.
The NBA has opened an investigation into alleged tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers, per the request of the Indiana Pacers, the league announced Sunday.
The allegations were not explicitly stated by the league, but the request pertains to the situation involving former Pacers star Paul George, who was traded to Oklahoma City this summer after requesting a trade. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers are denying the charges and that the investigation centers on potentially impermissible contact between Lakers president Magic Johnson and George.
The investigation was first reported by longtime NBA repoter Peter Vecsey. The league hired the outside firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to conduct the process, the same group that was involved with the league’s high-profile investigations into former referee Tim Donaghy and former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
If the Lakers are found guilty of tampering, punishments could include a loss of future draft picks, financial penalties or potential suspensions, according to Wojnarowski.
The Lakers issued the following statement:
"As the NBA's statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation. We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible."
Many reports around the time of George’s trade request included the fact that George, an All-Star forward who will be a free agent in 2018, had interest in joining the Lakers long-term, and that he told the Pacers in advance to give the team a chance to get something in return via trade. George was later traded to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Johnson, a Hall of Famer and Lakers legend with longtime ties to the franchise, was named president of basketball operations in February, two days before the NBA’s Feb. 23 trade deadline.