Magic Johnson offers to pay $500K tampering fine for Lakers
Magic Johnson understands that he is one of the main reasons the Los Angeles Lakers were recently fined $500,000 for tampering with Paul George, and the executive says he has offered to pay the fine himself.
Johnson, the Lakers’ new president of basketball operations, said Monday that he apologized to team owner Jeannie Buss and volunteered to have the $500,000 deducted from his pay.
“We can’t say a lot but we will correct the situation. It’s under my watch. I apologize to Jeanie, and that was the main thing,” Johnson said, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. “I told her she could take it out of my salary because I don’t want the Lakers to be paying that fine. … I don’t want her spending $500,000, because she didn’t do anything. That’s on me.”
The Lakers can certainly afford it, and while the fine was hefty it was nothing when you consider that the NBA could have taken away a draft pick or prevented the team from being able to pursue George in the future. Still, Johnson acknowledged that it was a mistake to joke about the Lakers trying to sign George when he appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“This is just on a late-night show being funny,” he said. “But now I know I can’t do that. We’re OK. I haven’t thought twice about it. We made a mistake. … It’s under my watch. I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.”
According to the NBA’s press release announcing the sanction, the Lakers were warned after Johnson made his remarks. The $500,000 fine came after general manager Rob Pelinka contacted George’s agent and expressed interest in signing the star swingman.
Johnson also sent some not-so-subtle tweets earlier in the offseason after George reportedly told the Indiana Pacers he intends to sign with the Lakers next summer. While the league did not mention anything about the tweets, it’s safe to assume Johnson will be a lot more careful going forward.