The Los Angeles Lakers made a big move on Tuesday when they agreed to trade young guard D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets, and it appears that they aren’t finished. With the NBA Draft looming, Los Angeles is reportedly pursuing a trade for Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George.
George made it clear through his agent that he will not return to the Pacers in free agency in the summer of 2018 and prefers to sign with the Lakers. However, with the threat of another team trading for George this summer and convincing him to abandon plans to head to Los Angeles, it may behoove the Lakers to make a deal now.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst appeared on SportsCenter, and explained the opinion of league executives that if George is traded it will be to the Lakers, transcription:
“In talking to league execs belief is growing that if Paul George is…traded before the draft it’s going to be to the Lakers,” Windhorst said. “He has made it clear through his agent that he does not intend to extend his contract with anybody, under any circumstances, except the Lakers, and therefore, it makes it very hard for anybody besides the Lakers to give up any draft assets for Paul Geroge, it’s just not worth it to them. The Lakers move yesterday gives them multiple assets. League agrees that price for PG would be peanuts if LAL aren’t willing to include the number two pick and they’re not. Indiana has to decide, if they want draft pick compensation for Paul George, the Lakers are the team to make the deal with and the deal is to be made between now and tomorrow night.”
Windhorst’s report solidifies the notion that the Pacers options in a George trade are limited and the Lakers appear to be in the driver’s seat. That said, the Pacers will want to extract as many assets as they can from Los Angeles likely wouldn’t be too thrilled about parting with their star without getting the second overall pick or Brandon Ingram in return.
Still, with George set on heading to Los Angeles next summer, Magic Johnson is in a strong bargaining position. The Pacers are unlikely to want to start the season with George on their roster, and while the Pacers will do their best to get a bidding war going, the Johnson can always fall back on a willingness to wait until next summer if Indiana demands too much.