EL SEGUNDO – For the second time in less than a year, the NBA has fined the Lakers front office for tampering with other team’s stars.
The Lakers were fined $50,000 on Tuesday after comments President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson made about Milwaukee All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league announced.
This came on the heels of a $500,000 that was levied in August, after an independent investigation determined General Manager Rob Pelinka had prohibited communication with the agent of then-Indiana superstar Paul George. The NBA previous warned the franchise after Johnson told late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that he would “be wink-winking” at George if they ran into each other over the offseason, because “you can’t just say, ‘I want you to come to the Lakers.’”
The lesser fine seems to reflect a more benign transgression this time around.
In an interview with ESPN last month, Johnson responded to questions about comparisons between himself and the young Bucks star. In the course of that interview, Johnson said, “He’s going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude, he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.”
Whereas the Pacers requested the league investigate the Lakers for their actions with George, the Bucks responded differently to those comments from Johnson. The Bucks social media team posted the quote on the team’s official Instagram account.
However, league rules dictate that opposing executives cannot talk about players under contract with opposing teams, whether the comments can be interpreted as a recruiting pitch or not.