Lakers Tampering Allegation Reportedly Due to Magic Johnson, Paul George Contact

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2017

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George answers a question at his first news conference since Oklahoma City's blockbuster trade with the Indiana Pacers, in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Indiana Pacers filed a tampering charge against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday revolving around Magic Johnson and Paul George.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the news, noting the "probe centered on possible impermissible contact" between the Lakers' president of basketball operations and George—whom the Pacers traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason.

Sean Highkin of The Athletic shared the NBA's statement in response to the situation:

At the request of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA opened an investigation into alleged tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers. The independent investigation is being conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz. The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting while the investigation is ongoing.

The Lakers would release a statement of their own, via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register: "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.”

Veteran reporter Peter Vecsey initially reported the league was investigating tampering allegations regarding George and the Lakers.

According to Wojnarowski, Los Angeles "adamantly" denied the charges, but Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript noted this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision from the Pacers:

George is a Southern California native, but he has been tied to the Lakers throughout much of this offseason through more than just geography. Wojnarowski—then of The Vertical—reported in June the two-way star told Indiana he planned to enter free agency in summer 2018 despite his player option for the 2018-19 campaign and saw Los Angeles as his desired landing place.

The Pacers were able to respond in kind and trade George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, ensuring they wouldn't lose him for essentially nothing in return.

Should George ultimately join the Lakers, the four-time All-Star would immediately bolster a franchise in the midst of a lengthy rebuild coming off four straight seasons with fewer than 30 wins.