Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Team officials aren’t allowed to make contact with players or their agents to discuss future plans unless it’s after the opening of the players’ free-agency year on July 1.The Pacers’ charges represent a growing concern around the league that potential suitors are reaching out to players and agents with one or two years left on current deals, trying to manipulate opt-outs and trades, league sources said.George, who grew up in Palmdale, informed the Pacers in early June that he planned to opt out of his contract in 2018 and intended to sign a free-agent deal with the Lakers. The Lakers were among the teams who made offers to the Pacers before the NBA draft, but he was ultimately traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for fourth-year guard Victor Oladipo and second-year big man Domantas Sabonis on June 30.For the Pacers’ purposes, the notion that George wants to sign with the Lakers in free agency next summer surely dampened his trade market.George has long been public in his desire and interest to potentially play for his hometown Lakers, and the 58-year-old Johnson has been open about his affinity for George ever since rejoining the organization’s front office in February. During an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in February, Johnson even joked about ways in which he could openly recruit George while avoiding the league’s tampering rules.“I had to go to school. I had to go to CBA school, salary cap school and tampering school,” he said with a laugh. “You can’t tamper with somebody else’s player.”Kimmel pressed on, asking what would happen if Johnson ran into George somewhere.“We gonna say hi because we know each other, you just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’ even though I’ll be wink-winking like, ‘You know what that means, right?’”Tampering likely happens often, especially in a social media age in which team rivalries can become diminished by the relationships between star athletes. Draymond Green helped recruit Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City to the Golden State Warriors a year ago, with text messages that Sports Illustrated reported began after the Warriors’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Durant was still under contract with Oklahoma City for 12 days while the conversations took place.George, 27, is one of the NBA’s most talented two-way players and has long been connected to possibly playing for the Lakers. The Lakers made a concerted effort to clear salary-cap space to pursue elite free agents such as George and Cleveland’s LeBron James next summer.George could be eligible to sign a four-year deal worth approximately $130 million with the Lakers next summer in free agency, though Oklahoma City will be able to offer him more than any potential suitor if he decides he wants to stay put.George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 2016-17. The four-time All-Star was part of the 2016 USA Olympic gold-medal team less than two years after suffering a horrific broken leg. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“As the NBA’s statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation. We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible,” the statement said.If the league can prove the Lakers were guilty of tampering with George while he was under contract with the Pacers, the Lakers could be punished in a variety of ways, including a loss of draft picks, financial fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of any offending officials.If the NBA were to find evidence that the Lakers had engaged in a side agreement with George, he could be prohibited from signing a free-agent deal with the team or being part of any future trade to the Lakers.It is unclear if any evidence exists that could incriminate Johnson or the Lakers. The NBA is using the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz to probe the matter, the league said in a statement released Sunday.The story on the tampering charges involving George was first reported by Patreon’s Peter Vecsey. The possibility of impermissible contact between Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and four-time All-Star Paul George is at the heart of an NBA probe into possible tampering, according to an ESPN report.The Indiana Pacers filed tampering charges with the NBA against the Lakers, and the league issued a statement Sunday saying a probe is underway.“The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting while the investigation is ongoing,” the NBA statement said.The Lakers are denying the allegations filed by the Pacers, insisting there is no evidence of tampering, and they expect to be cleared in the matter.