Paul George-Lakers tampering investigation reportedly centered around Magic Johnson

Late Saturday evening, it was reported by Peter Vescey that the Pacers were filing tampering charges against the Lakers over Paul George. Indiana had its hand forced when George reportedly informed the front office he didn't plan to re-sign and his preferred destination was the Lakers. The Pacers opted to trade George to the Thunder.

The NBA initially remained quiet about reports of tampering, but on Sunday they broke that silence to release a statement informing that they were opening an investigation on Los Angeles at request of Indiana. So far nothing has been discovered, but it's been requested that both teams remain silent on the subject. Here's the full statement:

"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."  

A lot of this feels very odd since the Lakers don't even have George on the roster, but there's a strong belief that his decision to tell the Pacers when he did was due to Los Angeles involvement behind the scenes. According to Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript, the Pacers have planned to file tampering charges well before they traded George to Oklahoma City.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the primary source of interest in these charges is Magic Johnson. There's a belief that he contacted George while he was still under contract with the Pacers. Of course, everybody remembers the Jimmy Kimmel interview where he openly talked about recruiting other players.That didn't help his case.

Here's the Magic Johnson interview with Jimmy Kimmel:

The NBA's interpretation of tampering has gotten very gray over the last few years. Players tampering with each other appears to have always been fair game, but front offices are supposed to remain hands off. Typically when teams are found guilty of it the result is a fine for an undisclosed amount, but theoretically if it was severe enough they could lose draft picks. It will be interesting to see what decision the NBA chooses to make after they've gotten more information. 

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