Less than six months after being punished by the NBA for tampering with Paul George, the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been fined $50,000 for violating the league's anti-tampering rules with Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the fine stems from recent comments by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson about Milwaukee's 23-year-old All-Star forward. From the NBA:
"The NBA announced today that it has fined the Los Angeles Lakers $50,000 for violating the league's anti-tampering rule. The fine is in response to statements regarding the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo made by Earvin Johnson in a recent media interview."
While the NBA doesn't specify which media interview, Johnson recently made the following comments about the Greek Freak to ESPN:
"Oh yeah," Johnson told ESPN recently. "With his ball-handling skills and his passing ability. He plays above the rim I never could do that. But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That's where we [have the] same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I'm just happy he's starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he's going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he's going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he's going to bring them a championship one day."
"He's special. A man that can handle the basketball like he can and be a great -- he's probably the greatest athlete we have in the league today. And then his understanding, his basketball IQ is off the chart. He not only can score for himself, but also he can pass that basketball like a point guard. So when you think about all the skills that he has, block shots, rebound, can put the ball on the floor, can score, can assist, can make the pass. We've never had anybody in the league like him. And also too, he's like the number one -- he's right up with LeBron, with KD and Steph [Curry] as the entertainer. He's an entertainer so people will go see him."
The Lakers were fined $500,000 in August after the NBA ruled that general manager Rob Pelinka had made inappropriate contact with Paul George's agent. This most recent fine, however, is based on a less obvious aspect of the anti-tampering rule, which, according to Larry Coon's CBA FAQ, states that the only allowed response for general managers and team personnel when discussing players under contract with another team is to decline comment.
Johnson also drew a warning from the league before the George fine for insinuating on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" that he would try to persuade George to come to the Lakers.
"You just can't say, 'Hey, I want you come to the Lakers,' even though I'm going to be wink-winking," Johnson said. "You know what that means, right?"
Johnson was named the Lakers' team president in February 2017.