Lakers Charged $500k for Tampering with Paul George

Written by ESPN News Staff at ESPN.com

The Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday were fined $500,000 for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rule after general manager Rob Pelinka was found to have had contact with Paul George’s agent after the team had already been warned.

The league said Pelinka’s contact with George’s agent “constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract” with the Indiana Pacers.

The fine followed an investigation, conducted by an independent law firm, after the Pacers filed tampering charges.

According to the league, the anti-tampering rule prohibits teams from interfering with other teams’ contractual relationships with NBA players, including by publicly expressing interest in a player who is currently under contract with another team, or by informing that player’s agent of your franchise’s interest.

The league said the punishment stems from Pelinka’s contact with George’s agent after the NBA had already warned the team about tampering following Lakers president Magic Johnson’s nationally televised comments about George on April 20.

“We respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding this matter,” Pelinka said in a statement. “On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA.”

The Lakers’ outside counsel, Adam Streisand, also said in the statement, “The Lakers organization is pleased that this thorough investigation has been brought to a close — and we can assure the fans that the Lakers will be hyper-vigilant going forward to make sure this is never an issue again.”

George informed the Pacers in June that he planned to opt out of his contract in 2018 and intended to sign a free-agent deal with the Lakers. He was then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in a deal that was finalized on July 6.

The possible penalties for the Lakers included a loss of draft picks, fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.

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Will The Warriors Target PG13 In Free Agency?

Written by Kyle Boone at CBS Sports.com

Paul George kindly informed the Indiana Pacers front office this offseason that he had no intentions of re-signing with the team when he hit the free-agent market in 2018, prompting a trade to send him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis the night before the start of the free agency period.

By most accounts, George is hell-bent on heading to the west coast when he becomes a free agent, leading most to speculate that the Lakers, his hometown team, might be the team to benefit from such a move. But if Warriors owner Joe Lacob has anything to do with it, the All-Star forward could wind up in the Bay Area playing for the reigning NBA champion Warriors.

Here’s what Tim Kawakami of The Athletic said about a potential Warriors pursuit of George in a recent podcast discussion with The Washington Post‘s Tim Bontemps.

Marcus and I have teased this for more than a year. We think they’re going to go after Paul George somehow. I think Joe Lacob is going to try to find a way to get Paul George. I don’t know how that would happen, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen three years ago when they said they were go after Durant. Well, they didn’t say it. But they might have whispered it.

Kawakami notes that despite the extremely bright outlook for the Warriors in the short-term, any chance for Lacob to grab younger talent like George, a 27-year-old in the prime of his career, they’ll make that move and “try anything” without disrupting the chemistry of one of the greatest NBA rosters ever assembled.

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Kyrie Could’ve Gotten Cavs Chris Paul and Paul George

Written by Ben Rohrbach at YahooSports.com

Soon after news broke that Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade and no longer wants to play in the LeBron James’ shadow, the man who broke the story, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, appeared on WKNR-AM radio and questioned the timing of Irving’s demands last week:

However, the man who confirmed Windhorst’s initial report, NBA.com’s David Aldridge, wrote, “Another league source said that Irving made his initial trade request before last month’s draft” — before the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers traded All-Stars Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Chris Paul, presumably players who could be swapped for Irving and keep Cleveland in contention.

It’s entirely possible that Irving merely hinted at a trade request last month and made a more formal demand last week, and it’s also possible the Cavaliers believed he was posturing about wanting out several weeks ago, only to realize more recently the severity of his desire to play elsewhere.

Either way, the Cavs should not have been blindsided by last week’s request. There is no doubt whispers about Irving’s growing frustration in Cleveland were growing louder in NBA circles leading up to the draft, and it would be difficult to imagine the Cavaliers brass was unaware of those rumblings.

The real question should be whether or not Cleveland’s front-office upheaval caused the Cavs a shot to land one of the three All-Stars who changed teams in trades over the past month. The team parted ways with popular general manager David Griffin on June 19 over a contract dispute, and then reportedly lowballed prospective president of basketball operations Chauncey Billups early in July.

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Pacers Offered PG-13 To Golden State For Klay Thompson, GSW Said Nah

Written by ESPN Staff at ESPN.com

Before All-Star forward Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunderlast month, the Indiana Pacers talked to the Golden State Warriors and offered him for Klay Thompson, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to the source, Golden State said no to the offer, and the talks with Indiana ended there.

Appearing on Thursday’s SportsCenter, George told Wojnarowski he was aware the Pacers had talked to the Warriors.

“I would’ve looked forward to it, of just being in a good situation and a chance to compete for a championship,” he told Wojnarowski. “But it didn’t happen. It’s still fun to team up with a special talent and have a chance to compete against that team.”

George joked that he didn’t think a trade to Golden State would fly with the league.

“Yeah, I think that would’ve been the Chris Paul-to-L.A. situation where they denied that trade,” George said with a laugh, referring to the infamous 2011 deal that was vetoed by then-NBA commissioner David Stern.

The Pacers sent George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis on June 30.

In Oklahoma City, he’ll be teamed with Russell Westbrook. George talked Thursday about how the Warriors have changed the game.

“We love being the alpha of our teams, but it’s just not realistic that you’re going to be able to do it alone,” George said.

“You need help in this league. Back in the day, that’s what made the league. Guys were winning championships, making their team better by themselves. They had pieces and they had a lot of help. But the league was spread out.

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PG 13 Sold On Thunder By Kevin Durant. Wait What?

Written by ESPN News Staff at ESPN.com

Thunder forward Paul George says a former face of the franchise — Kevin Durant — sold him on his new team following his trade to Oklahoma City last week.

“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away,'” George told Sports Illustrated for a story published Tuesday. “He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.’ He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organization in every way.”

George was traded to the Thunder by the Indiana Pacers on July 6, with the agreement initially reported June 30. The Pacers, who received Victor Oladipoand Domantas Sabonis in the swap, were looking to move George after he told them he would opt out of his contract after next season.

George, 27, acknowledged the awkwardness of his departure from Indiana.

“There’s no right way to handle it,” George told SI. “I get the frustration. I get why people are upset. But at the same time, I want the average fan to understand that we only get a small window to play this game, and more than anything, you want to be able to play for a championship. I wanted to bring that to Indiana. I really did. I love Indiana. That will always be a special place for me, and I’m sorry for not holding on. But I wasn’t sure we’d ever get a team together to compete for a championship, and that’s where all this came from.”

Durant, coincidentally, just won his first NBA title after leaving the Thunder last offseason and signing with the Golden State Warriors.

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The Death Of The Small Market: How NBA Stars Are Heading For More Exposure

Written by Tim Bonetemps at Washington Post.com

Russell Westbrook stood on a stage in New York on Monday night, moments after winning the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, and began delivering a long list of thank yous. He mentioned virtually everyone who works for the Oklahoma City Thunder — many of whom were in the building — and then asked five of his teammates to join him.

It was a fitting capstone to what was a remarkable season for Westbrook and a cool moment for a franchise that was gut-punched last summer when Kevin Durant left in free agency.  It also made it seem certain that Westbrook — whose award makes him eligible for the new designated player exception, allowing him to sign a greater-than-$200 million contract extension with the Thunder when free agency begins Saturday – will stay in Oklahoma City for the long term.

But when Westbrook was asked a few minutes later about the potential of signing an extension with the Thunder, he did everything he could to avoid an answer.

“Man, tonight is so important for me, and obviously with the contract and stuff coming up, it’s not really on my mind at the moment, honestly,” Westbrook said. “I’m just overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of blessings I’ve been able to get to be able to get this award.

“Man, I’m just thinking about tonight, and then after that, I’ll move on.”

Not the most reassuring of answers for a Thunder fan.

Westbrook’s situation is one of a few fascinating ones involving star players and small market teams entering free agency this offseason, which kicks off at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. All have the potential to show whether the efforts to strengthen a team’s ability to hang onto its stars have been successful – or if the league has to go back to the drawing board.

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John Wall Politicking For PG-13 In DC

Written by Marc J. Spears at ESPN.com

Washington Wizards All-Star guard John Wall told ESPN’s The Undefeated that he is recruiting Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George in hopes that George will push for a trade to the nation’s capital.

George has no intention of staying with the Pacers beyond the expiration of his current contract in June 2018. The Los Angeles-area native is intrigued by the possibility of joining the Lakers, sources previously told The Undefeated. The four-time All-Star also is being pursued by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade, sources previously told ESPN.

However, with Wall leading the recruiting charge, he is hoping his buddy ends up in Washington.

“I am talking to some guys — Paul. I know his ultimate goal of where he wants to be. I’m trying to see if we can make something happen,” Wall told The Undefeated before the NBA awards on Monday night.

Wall and the Wizards were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics last season. The Wizards currently have two elite players in Wall and sharpshooter Bradley Beal, and the former believes George is the missing piece to their starting lineup.

Wall also believes George can help Washington get over the hump to be a title contender and could counter Cavaliers All-Star forward LeBron James.

The Wizards have had trade conversations with the Pacers, a source told The Undefeated. The source added that the Pacers have been patient and that no deal with the Wizards is close at the moment.

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Could Cavs Get Paul George?

Written by Jack Maloney at CBS Sports.com

Only one day after the blockbuster trade between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to send the No. 1 pick to Philly reportedly was agreed upon, the NBA world got more big news out of the Eastern Conference when Pacers star Paul George reportedly told the Pacers he was not planning to return after next season. Let’s work through some of the details.

What happened between Paul George and the Pacers?

According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Paul George informed Indiana Pacers execs that he has no long-term plans with the franchise, and will test the free agency waters in the summer, with the Los Angeles Lakers being his preferred destination.

What will happen between the two sides moving forward? 

Not surprisingly, the report touched off some trade talks, as teams are hoping to poach George from Indiana before the Pacers lose him for nothing in 2018. One of those teams is the Cleveland Cavaliers, per multiple reports.

In addition, Zach Lowe is reporting the Pacers will try to move quickly on making a deal.

What leverage do the Pacers have? 

Well, not much. George has indicated that he’s not going to re-sign with the Pacers next summer, meaning they will lose an All-Star forward for nothing unless they swing a deal before next season’s trade deadline. On top of that, George seems set on going to the Lakers, so it’s very likely any trade would be a rental. With these factors in play, most teams will not be eager to give up too much in trade.

Do the Cavaliers have a legitimate shot at getting George?

According to Dave McMenamin, the Cavs are not concerned with George’s interest in Los Angeles. Via ESPN:

The Cavs are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland, a source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN. Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal.

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PG-13 Wants To Opt Out Of Contract Next Summer, Go To Lakers

Written by Adrian Wojnarowski at YahooSports.com

All-Star forward Paul George has informed the Indiana Pacers that he plans to become a free agent in the summer of 2018 and will leave the franchise – preferably for the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told The Vertical.

George hasn’t requested a trade before he can opt out of his 2018-19 contract, but did have his agent, Aaron Mintz, tell new Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard that he wanted to be forthright on his plans and spare the franchise any confusion about his intentions, league sources told The Vertical.

In the past 24 hours, Pritchard has become more aggressive in pursuing trades for George, league sources told The Vertical. Pritchard has yet to show an inclination to engage the Lakers, but has discussed deals with several teams – including Cleveland – in which the expectation of teams would be that George is a “one-year rental.” The Cavaliers are devoid of the kind of young players and future picks that Indiana might want in return for George, and George has never mentioned the Cavaliers as an intriguing destination.

It is unclear how robust offers to Indiana will ultimately be, given that teams believe he will sign with the Lakers next summer. So far, Indiana is asking for a substantial package of talent and draft picks for George, league sources said. Discussions could extend until Thursday’s NBA draft – or beyond.

George can sign a four-year deal worth as much as $130 million with Los Angeles next year. George is a Southern California native and playing for the Lakers would represent a homecoming for him.

George plans to play out the 2017-18 season with Indiana, but wants to give the organization the chance to plan appropriately for its future – which George told the team won’t include him, league sources said.

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Trades The Cavs Could Make To Try And Beat Golden State

Written by Andrew Lynch at Fox Sports.com

The Cleveland Cavaliers were closer to defending their championship than you think.

Yes, we know the Cavs just lost the 2017 NBA Finals in five games. We also know the Warriors cruised past the Cavaliers in those five games by a total margin of 34 points.

Yet if the Cavaliers had implemented their Game 4 strategy earlier in this series, they might still be playing rather than headed to an early vacation. So on that note, we should get one thing clear: Cleveland doesn’t need to make a move this offseason, especially not a big trade.

Moving Kevin Love isn’t going to improve the Cavs — not when you take a look at who’s on the market.

With that said, a trade could prove the decisive margin in a fourth meeting against Golden State. You never know, right? More important, we know you want to read about potential trades to help LeBron James get over the top against those Warriors if for no other reason than to give you hope that someone can break Golden State’s emerging stranglehold on the NBA.

So on that optimistic note, here are four deals Cleveland could consider this offseason to restock for next June.