Update (Sherman): The NBA has moved to fine the Lakers $500,000 for tampering in communications with Paul George.
“The conduct at issue involved communications by Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka with the agent representing Paul George that constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract,” the league’s announcement stated.
The fine, “a drop in the bucket,” according to one rival executive, still amounts to the largest penalty in league history for an infraction such as this.
Per Peter Vescey, the Indiana Pacers front office is looking into filing league tampering charges against the Los Angeles Lakers for their involvement with Paul George.
NBA investigating Lakers 4 purported tampering w PGeorge. Independent law firm handling interviews of Buss, Magic. https://t.co/MnaPpaFUJh— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) August 20, 2017
Jeanie Buss, Magic, Pelinka have to turn over any correspondence they had w/ Paul George, PG's parents & his agent: https://t.co/mBo4AEa3Aq— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 20, 2017
Per Lakers Nation:
“This is a serious accusation being harbored against the franchise and if it is proven that they had illegal contact with him, there will be serious consequences which could included forfeiting draft picks or not being allowed to sign George once he does become a free agent.”
There is also history of a similar free-agency infraction occurring with the Heat and three other league teams. Per the CBAFAQ:
Tampering is when a player or team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades anybody (player, general manager, etc.) who is under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services. The NBA may impose suspensions and/or fines up to $50,000 if tampering is discovered, however the league's practice has been to wait until a team lodges a complaint before investigating (but that's not to say they don't continue to monitor the league and won't take action independently if they discover that tampering has occurred). Here are some examples:
The Miami Heat were discovered to have tampered with Pat Riley in 1995 by negotiating with Riley while he was the head coach of the New York Knicks. The Heat "settled," and avoided league-imposed penalties, by compensating the Knicks with $1 million and their first round draft pick in 1996.
The league fined three teams (Hawks, Kings and Rockets) because of team statements to the media, team emails to prospective season ticket purchasers, and articles posted on team websites related to players under contract with other teams, but who would become free agents that summer. For example, Kings coach Michael Malone stated in a press conference that "Chris Paul would look pretty good in a Sacramento Kings uniform."
News is currently incoming but it appears all correspondence between the Lakers and George must be submitted to the league, including any possible interactions between Los Angeles personnel and George’s family.
More to come on this story as it develops.