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NBA investigating Lakers amid Paul George tampering allegation

NEW YORK – The NBA says it has opened an investigation to see if the Los Angeles Lakers tampered with Paul George while he was under contract with the Indiana Pacers.

The probe is being handled by the New York-based law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The NBA said the Lakers have cooperated with the ongoing investigation.

Neither the Lakers nor the Pacers immediately offered any public comment Sunday, and the NBA said it asked the teams to refrain from commenting.

A team source told ESPN that the Lakers are denying the allegations filed by the Pacers.

“As the NBA’s statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation,” the Lakers said in a statement. “We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible.”

George is a four-time All-Star and Los Angeles native who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this offseason. The Pacers traded him after George told them he planned to leave Indiana as a free agent next summer.

According to ESPN, if officials prove the Lakers tampered with George while he was under contract with Indiana, they can be punished in several ways, including a loss of draft picks, fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.