On Thursday, the NBA announced that the Los Angeles Lakers have been issued a fine of $500,000 for "violating the league's anti-tampering rule" with regards to a player under contract, Paul George.
The NBA stated that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka expressed interest in George with the player's agent while George was under contract with the Indiana Pacers. No coincidence, the Pacers originally asked the league to look into the matter. With Earvin "Magic" Johnson's now infamous winking on Jimmy Kimmel Live when discussing George and the NBA's tampering rule, not fining the Lakers would have been tough to justify.
From the Lakers' point of view, the team got away cheap. To put this fine into perspective, only one day earlier, the team pledged to donate $100,000 to the American Red Cross to aid victims of the devastating hurricane that hit Houston. As one of Forbes' 10 most valuable sports franchises on the planet in 2017, the Lakers are not short on funds. This fine hardly hurts the organization where it counts.
Pelinka and Johnson could have been suspended, the team could have lost draft picks or the Lakers could have been barred from signing George altogether. Instead, the team faces a relatively minor fine and moves along like nothing happened.
According to the investigation, the independent law firm asked to lead the investigation did not find any evidence of an agreement between the player and the team, and so, the fine effectively serves as little more than a speeding ticket for a millionaire driving in a Porsche.
The Lakers will be fine.
Update: The Lakers responded to the announcement of the fine.
Pelinka said, "We respect and accept the NBA's decision regarding this matter. On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA."
Lakers outside counsel Adam Streisand said, "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."