Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George said Wednesday that the Indiana Pacers suspected his relationship with Los Angeles Lakers associate head coach Brian Shaw constituted tampering over the summer, but the NBA’s investigation found no evidence of tampering by Shaw, multiple sources told ESPN.
“They thought it was tampering,” George said after the Thunder shootaround before their game in Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). “There was no tampering at all. It was kind of crazy. Our relationship, myself and B-Shaw, was far more stronger than the team’s, me coming to the Lakers, was. B-Shaw has been a mentor for me, so it was kind of comical.
“The Pacers thought there was more depth, of him trying to recruit me. It wasn’t. The only thing me and B-Shaw ever spoke about was fishing. We challenge each other on fishing trips. B-Shaw has way, way better class than trying to recruit me.”
Shaw was the Pacers’ associate head coach early in George’s career, and the two developed a close relationship off the court that continued after Shaw left to coach the Denver Nuggets.
Sources told ESPN that Shaw and George frequently went on fishing trips during the summer, trading off between lakes in Indiana and Shaw’s home in Oakland, California. After the league warned the Lakers about tampering following new team president Magic Johnson’s cheeky comments on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in April, Shaw reconsidered whether to participate in the fishing trip and in George’s fishing competition, which was being held Aug. 13 at Lake Castaic, north of Los Angeles.
The Lakers’ lawyers advised Shaw not to participate in the event or go on the trip while the tampering investigation was ongoing, sources said.
The NBA ultimately fined the Lakers $500,000 after finding evidence of contact between general manager Rob Pelinka and George’s agent after the organization had been warned. The investigation did not find evidence of inappropriate contact between Shaw and George.