Lakers Caught Cheating…Sort Of

The $500,000 the Lakers were fined by the NBA for talking to Paul George’s agent is gas money compared to the three billion the Lakers are worth. The NBA decided that former agent and now Lakers GM Rob Pelinka had a conversation with George’s agent, Aaron Mintz, a no-no according to NBA league rules. Hands off players under contract.  Perhaps Pelinka forgot he was a high ranking member of a NBA front office as he continued to work the phones with his contacts and resources within the agent community. Pelinka may not have read the fine print when he took the job. Agent to former agent convo is tampering.

What Pelinka and MIntz talked about is a curiosity which is why the Lakers were only fined a small fraction of the five million that was on the table as well as draft picks taken away and the rights to George temporarily stripped. The Lakers skated in this so called punishment as we knew they would.

This was an entire waste of time. The league is too chummy now. Players talk to players. Players talk to agents. Agents talk to GM’s. It’s all under the table and back room until someone gets their feelings hurt and tattles.

Enter Kevin Pritchard.

The interim GM of the Indiana Pacers believed collusion took place and because the Pacers, frankly, lost everything when George went rogue, Pritchard  filed tampering charges.

If you believe his version and not that this is sour grapes from a loser, the Pritchard narrative is some story.  Pelinka and Mintz are the bad guys. They created a strategy where George would go upstairs, tell Pacers ownership he wanted to be moved and- this is the important part of the George bombshell-  he was only going to sign an extension with the Lakers. It would deliver the Lakers Paul George on a platter and the Pacers would be boxed in with few options.

Naturally the Pacers are pissed at Pelinka’s interference or maybe it was the other way around, maybe Mintz came to Pelinka and floated an idea and Pelinka ran with it. Regardless of who did what, Pelinka is the one who has to know better. If that is indeed what happened.

The terms of the conversation has sketchy details and to compound the mystery no one is talking but it doesn’t help the Pacers one lick, this $500 grand slap on the wrist. They traded Paul George for the bottom of the deck Victor Oladipo. The Pacers could have actually gotten a better package if the Lakers had been involved and given up some of their young talent but Kevin Pritchard was so pissed off he just threw darts on the wall to see if anything stuck.

But back to the Lakers. So what they were fined $500 grand. Do they even care? Newbie GM Rob Pelinka released a ho-hum statement.

“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.”

There’s a lot of legal mumbo jumbo explaining why this is so wrong. The bottom line is the Lakers were warned to back up when it came to Paul George and they did the opposite. (The privileged always play by their own rules). The Lakers got called out for it, and their fine is barely a mosquito bite on the butt, and things are normal in La-La land. But in Indy, who got the short straw, they were successful in promoting victimhood but what does that get them?

Vindication perhaps. What happened to George was not fair. At the end of the day, the Pacers have been gutted, their dreams stolen as they march feebly into the lottery for the foreseeable future despite the bright light of Myles Turner. The Pacers won the short battle, props to them for the jab to the chin- but this is the long game and the Lakers are no different than they were when Pritchard tried to make a point.

Paul George and the sweepstakes are a closed chapter in Indy and so it goes. Big beats small once more.


photo via llananba