Paul George and Los Angeles Lakers associate head coach Brian Shaw allowed their private texts and emails to be examined by NBA investigators this past summer, as the league looked into their relationship after George's former team, the Indiana Pacers, raised concerns about possible tampering.
"We had the whole talking to investigators. They [were] going through my phone or texts, emails," George told ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth on Wednesday before he played the Lakers as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. "It was a hassle that really shouldn't have been made up to what it was. I understand the Pacers were mad about the situation, but there was nothing there. We are close, best friends, on that level, more than anything else. We were confident we were fine that nothing was going to come up. And we stick with our relationship."
Multiple sources told ESPN earlier Wednesday that the league's investigation found no evidence of tampering by Shaw in his relationship with George.
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 president of basketball operations Magic Johnson's cheeky comments regarding George on ABC's "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.
Earlier Wednesday, George said the Pacers suspected his relationship with Shaw constituted tampering over the summer.
"They thought it was tampering," George said after the Thunder shootaround before their game in Los Angeles. "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."