The Los Angeles Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations may have had contact with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George while George was a member of the Indiana Pacers, which would violate league rules.
If the allegations are true, Magic Johnson may have made it exponentially more difficult for the Los Angeles Lakers to sign current Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George next offseason when George will be a free agent.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Indiana Pacers requested that the NBA investigate possible tampering by the Lakers. The league has acquiesced to that request, hiring a private law firm to conduct the inquiry.
If the firm is able to find sufficient evidence that Johnson contacted George about potentially joining the Lakers when he fit free agency during his time in Indiana, it could mean league sanctions not only against Los Angeles but for Johnson as well.
Johnson could face a suspension, in addition to the potential fines and loss(es) of draft pick(s) that the Lakers could be saddled with. Perhaps more importantly for Lakers fans looking forward to the possibility of George joining the team for the 2018-19 season and beyond, the league could make that a very costly transaction for Los Angeles by forcing the Lakers to sacrifice more draft picks or pay additional fines for signing George.
If that ends up being the fate of this investigation, it will sour Johnson’s short tenure as president of basketball ops. He was promoted to the position just six months ago. Adding George and perhaps another top-tier free agent in the offseason before the 2018-19 season seemed like a sure thing for the franchise, given George’s public expressions of desire to play for Los Angeles.
It would be a rare twist of irony if Johnson’s impatience to secure George for the Lakers ends up being the very thing that prevents that transaction from happening. That would not only hurt the Lakers’ chances of being competitive again, but Johnson’s legacy as an NBA executive as well.