Magic Johnson Asked Jeanie Buss to Take Lakers Tampering Fine out of His Salary

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2017

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 7:  Jeanie Buss, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, Dr. Jerry Buss and Phil Jackson pose for a photo at the Magic Johnson Foundation Press Conference at Staples Center on November 7, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said Monday he told team owner Jeanie Buss she could take the $500,000 fine for tampering with former Indiana Pacers forward Paul George out of his salary. 

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times passed along comments from Johnson, who called the situation a "mistake" and said he'll "make sure it doesn't happen anymore."

"We can't say a lot but we will correct the situation," he said. "It's under my watch. I apologize to Jeanie, and that was the main thing. I told her she could take it out of my salary because I don't want the Lakers to be paying that fine. … I don't want her spending $500,000, because she didn't do anything. That's on me."

The NBA announced the punishment last week after an independent investigation by the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz law firm into communication between Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and an agent for George while he was still with the Pacers.

That contact "constituted a prohibited expression of interest," the NBA said in a statement. The league noted it previously warned the Lakers about the situation after Johnson made a joke about George during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in April.

"The investigation did not reveal evidence of an agreement or understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire Mr. George," the league said.

George was ultimately traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in July.

That said, the 27-year-old California native is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract, per Spotrac. He can decline a player option to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2017-18 season.

Ganguli reported in June the small forward was "telling friends that he intends to be a Laker in 2018." When asked about his outlook, he didn't rule out joining the Lakers before next season, according to Kristian Winfield of SB Nation.

"We'll see," George said. "I'm a Thunder, and my job is to give them the best I have this year and see what happens after that."

For now, George will line up alongside reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook as the Thunder attempt to emerge as a top threat to the Golden State Warriors in Western Conference.