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Pacers reportedly file tampering charges against Lakers for contact with Paul George

Indiana dealt George to the Thunder after reports surfaced of his desire to go to Los Angeles in 2018.

Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers have filed tampering charges against the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Those charges are centered around forbidden contact between Lakers president Magic Johnson and Paul George.

The NBA announced it has opened an independent investigation into the Lakers, conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Here is the statement issued by NBA Executive Vice President of Communications, Mike Bass:

“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,a t this time, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting while the investigation is ongoing.”

The Pacers initiated the complaint around the time of the 2017 NBA Draft according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Notably, that’s before they traded George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz was a law firm involved in the legal war between the NBA and former referee Tim Donaghy. The firm interviewed 57 referees as part of an internal investigation to claim about $1.3 million in restitution from Donaghy, according to ESPN.

The Lakers have denied the Pacers’ allegations, according to ESPN, and expect to be cleared in the matter.

In late June, the Pacers traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a deal many felt was a low return for a perennial Eastern Conference All-Star. But Indiana had its hand forced as reports surfaced of George’s desire to leave Indiana for his hometown of Los Angeles when his pending free agency strikes in 2018.

George later told Pacers management that he would not re-sign in Indiana in 2018 and that his preference was to join to Lakers as a free agent.

If found guilty, both George and the Lakers could face severe penalties.

If the Lakers are found guilty of tampering with George while he was under contract with Indiana, Los Angeles could lose draft picks, absorb fines of up to $5 million, have future restrictions on acquiring George and face possible suspensions on offending officials, according to ESPN.

If the NBA finds there has been a side agreement between the Lakers and George, he could be banned from joining the Lakers, be it via free agency or trade.