Mike Bass, the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Communications, released a statement on Sunday regarding the NBA’s investigation of the Lakers alleged tampering violation:
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 & 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.
This news was first reported by veteran reporter Peter Vecsey. While no player was named in the NBA’s statement, the tampering charges are presumably in reference to Paul George, who reportedly has his heart set on joining the Lakers next summer. Vecsey’s report included that the alleged charges are indeed about George.
The Pacers, likely feeling pressured by George’s intention to leave in free agency next summer, traded the four-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis – an underwhelming package for a player of George’s caliber.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski detailed the potential consequences in a column:
If the league office’s probe can prove the Lakers were guilty of tampering with George while under contract with Indiana, Los Angeles can be punished in several ways, including a loss of draft picks, financial fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.