Kimmel asked Johnson about how he'd handle seeing George, an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018 rumored to have interest in returning home to Los Angeles.
Instead of dodging the question, Johnson played along.
"We gonna say 'Hi' because we know each other," Johnson said. "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?'"
The problem is -- and continues to be as exemplified by his comments to ESPN -- is that Magic Johnson can't stop being Magic Johnson.
As a longtime icon in the sport and as a commentator, Johnson had forums to share his opinions about players throughout the league. He sacrificed that when he became the team's president of basketball operations nearly a year ago.
Future punishment for tampering could cost the team more money, future draft picks or even the ability to sign specific players.
The fine from the NBA came just after a separate report on ESPN had the Lakers essentially exiting the chase for the top free agents in 2018 like LeBron James and George by "recalibrating" their focus to the free-agent class in 2019.
While on some levels, that decision seems like a "You can't fire me, I quit!" tactic, it also could be related to some recent optimism on how the team has fared.
Since Jan. 7, only the Houston Rockets have a better winning percentage than the Lakers, who have played their last 11 games without Lonzo Ball, their prized rookie, on the court.
If the Lakers scrap their long-spoken plans to try to sign a pair of players this summer to max contracts for a more prudent approach, it will mean smaller, more nuanced decisions for the team's front office.
Mistakes when it comes to the NBA's rules so far haven't cost the team more than a sizable amount of money. Mistakes when it comes to rebuilding a championship franchise, though, would be even more costly.
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