Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick, Jeff Zillgitt and AJ Neuharth-Keusch got together to grade the offseason for several NBA teams.
USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers want revenge for the costly loss of Paul George.
Seven weeks after the former Pacers star was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for proverbial pennies on the dollar, the franchise is alleging that the Los Angeles Lakers are guilty of violating the league’s tampering rules in their pursuit of the four-time All-Star. The NBA on Sunday confirmed the Pacers’ allegations and said in a statement that the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is conducting the investigation.
“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 statement read from Mike Bass, the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Communications.
While no specifics of the accusations were included in the statement, the conduct of Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is sure to be front and center. With George’s strong interest in signing with the Lakers as a free agent next summer widely known in league circles, the 58-year-old Johnson has been open about his affinity for George ever since rejoining the organization’s front office in February. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in February, the Lakers legend even joked about ways in which he could openly recruit George while avoiding the league’s tampering rules.
For the Pacers’ purposes, the notion that George wants to sign with the Lakers in free agency next summer surely dampened his trade market. So two weeks after George’s agent, Aaron Mintz, told the Pacers in June that his client did not intend to re-sign with them, and two months after Larry Bird had stepped down as president and Kevin Pritchard took the lead in the front office, the Pacers traded George to the Thunder in exchange for fourth-year guard Victor Oladipo and second-year big man Domantas Sabonis. Patreon’s Peter Vecsey first reported that the investigation had been opened.
Follow Sam Amick on Twitter @sam_amick.