Los Angeles Lakers fans can now heave a sigh of relief after their team escaped with just a $500,000 fine for tampering with Paul George, meaning they can still pursue the All-Star when he turns free agent in 2018. The Lakers avoided a heavier penalty where they will be prohibited from signing George when he becomes a free agent after investigators failed to determine if there was an improper agreement between the two sides.

NBA Statement on Lakers

The NBA said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka expressed interest in acquiring George when he was still with the Indiana Pacers, who later shipped George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.

The Lakers also received a warning from the league after team president Magic Johnson discussed on Jimmy Kimmel Live in April the possibility of George joining in the team in 2018.

In a statement, Pelinka said the Lakers "respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding on the matter. He also expressed regret over the “unfortunate incident” to the Lakers’ fans and the NBA. Early this month, the Pacers asked the NBA to investigate the Lakers for possible tampering on George, who was reportedly looking at the Lakers as a possible destination.

George interested in Lakers, might form super team with James

In a previous interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, George admitted that he is interested in playing for the Lakers, but that interest was “overstated.” George said playing for the Lakers will be dream come true, especially for him who he grew up in the outskirts of Los Angeles.

It was reported that LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers plans to join the Lakers in 2018 and form a super team with George and youngsters Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

Westbrook might join George, James in Lakers

While he’s interested in joining the Lakers, Paul George is also considering signing a long-term deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder if he and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook can carry the team to success in the coming season.

George said if the Thunder make it to the Conference Finals or upset the Golden State Warriors, then he’ll be dumb “to want to leave that.” However, there is also a strong chance that Westbrook, George, and James might join forces with the Lakers in 2018, according to Matt Burke of Metro.us. While he expressed his intention to remain with the Thunder, Westbrook has not yet signed the five-year, $207 million contract extension that will make him the highest-paid player in the NBA.