LeBron James shook the basketball world by joining the Los Angeles Lakers and now something even more incredible has happened.
He’s going to be teammates with Lance Stephenson.
Acccording to Chris Haynes, Stephenson has agreed to a 1-year, $4.5 million deal with the Lakers and instead of getting on LeBron’s last nerve as an opponent, he’ll now be on the same side as the player who has knocked him out of the playoffs five times.
The whole scenario sounds like some strange idea for a network sitcom where two players with a large backstory of intense playoff moments and hilarity end up on the same team and become friends. Maybe Lance ends up appearing in the rumored Space Jam sequel?
Stephenson was rumored to be a possibility to join the Cavaliers the same season that he ended up rejoining Indiana. The fit next to James is questionable as Stephenson needs the ball a lot to be his best self, but there’s no reason to take possessions away from James. It’ll be entertaining to see how this plays out.
Lance Stephenson said goodbye on Instagram to Indiana.
Stephenson was a free agent because the Indiana Pacers declined his team option for the upcoming season, citing the desire for cap flexibility.
Stephenson was a fan favorite and will go down as an Indiana legend, but it’ll be very strange to see him play by LeBron’s side in a Lakers uniform.
After an independent investigation, the Los Angeles Lakers were found to have tampered with Paul George and were fined $500,000.
The reason for the fine was Lakers GM Rob Pelinka expressing interest in George to his agent Aaron Mintz while he was still under contract with the Pacers.
This happened after the league had already issued a warning to the Lakers for tampering after Magic Johnson’s wink-filled interview on national television with Jimmy Kimmel.
The Pacers won’t receive any compensation like draft picks as the league did not find evidence that the Lakers and George had reached an agreement for George to join the team in free agency in 2018.
It’s a small consolation to the Pacers who had zero leverage in the Paul George trade talks because of his widely known desire to join the Lakers and his agent telling teams he would just be a rental.
Peter Vecsey reports that the NBA is investigating whether the Los Angeles Lakers tampered with Paul George after the Indiana Pacers filed charges with the league.
The video seen above with Magic Johnson appearing on Jimmy Kimmel and ironically explaining what tampering is and why he can’t do it could be enough on its own for at least some small penalty to be reached against the Lakers. It seems as though Johnson’s urge to make a joke on TV caused him to forget what he learned in “tampering school.”
Vecsey reports that the Lakers were asked to turn over “any correspondence pertaining to” George, his agent and his parents.
In the CBA tampering is defined as when a team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades someone that is under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services.
In the past, teams have been fined undisclosed amounts due to tampering charges. In perhaps the biggest case, the Miami Heat ended up giving the New York Knicks $1 million and a first-round pick to the New York Knicks for tampering with Pat Riley while he was still under contract.
The Pacers obviously were in a tough spot once George and his agent told the team he wasn’t returning and his agent told other teams that he was only interested in re-signing with the Lakers. If the Lakers were talking with George or his agent along the way, that made the Pacers challenge even more difficult.
It’s unlikely the Pacers get anything back from the Lakers like the Riley situation, especially with George not with the Lakers yet. This would seem to gain more traction next off-season when/if George does what everyone expects and signs with Los Angeles.