There has been no shortage of drama, rumors, and speculation surrounding the immediate future of the Los Angeles Lakers over the last few weeks. Along with a complete overhaul of the team’s front office by president Jeanie Buss, more changes could be on the horizon during the summer regarding the Lakers roster.
Magic Johnson and new general manager Rob Pelinka will have their work cut out for them once the 2016-17 NBA season comes to an end. The new front office duo for the Lakers will focus on the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery on May 16 followed by the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22.
Once the team learns whether they’ve retained their top-3 protected pick in the draft and where the pick will be if retained, things will get interesting for the Lakers as they will have a tradable asset that a lot of teams around the league will be interested in.
If the Lakers have one of the top-three picks in the upcoming draft, Magic’s first call could be to his former on-court rival and close friend, Larry Bird of the Indiana Pacers.
Rumors will almost certainly start swirling once again about Paul George being potentially headed to the Lakers this summer. The question is whether it is the right move for the Lakers to trade for him this summer or simply wait for George to become a free agent in 2018.
In this week’s Lakers Nation roundtable, we asked our expert panel the following question:
Should the Lakers attempt to trade for Paul George this summer or wait for free agency in 2018?
Here is what they had to say:
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH)
My original thought was that the Lakers should wait it out. The chances of the Pacers suddenly morphing into a championship contender aren’t great, and if the rumors are to be believed, George wants to join the Lakers so why sacrifice important young pieces?
But then I remembered all of the players who supposedly wanted to join the Lakers once they hit free agency. Guys like Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and DeMarcus Cousins who never even made it to free agency, opting to sign extensions instead. Not to mention all of the people who actually did make it to free agency and decided not to join (or in some cases even meet) the Lakers.
The point is, nothing is guaranteed in free agency and if the Lakers can get Paul George for a reasonable package they need to do it. Preferably the Lakers could wait it out until the NBA trade deadline where the Pacers will be desperate to get anything for fear of losing George in free agency for nothing, but if it has to happen this summer then so be it.
Assuming the Lakers keep their draft pick if they can get George by giving up only one of the Russell/Ingram/Pick trio and either Clarkson or Randle plus whatever other spare parts or picks need to be included they have to do it.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand)
I think that every Laker fan, including myself, wants to see Paul George in the purple and gold, but should they trade for him this summer or wait to sign him as a free agent is a very difficult question.
Obviously, ideally the Pacers hold onto him this summer and all of next year, and do not surround him with championship-caliber talent, the Lakers keep their young core intact, and George comes over as a free agent in 2018.
But nothing is ever that easy, as we have noticed in free agency the past few summers. So if Indiana says they intend to trade George, I would not hesitate to make a move, given the Lakers do not give up their entire young core for him.
With free agency, you never know what will happen, and if Indiana trades him to a team that could possibly contend for a championship with him like the Celtics, then he most likely wouldn’t want to leave a situation like that. So if a trade is what it takes to land the superstar in Los Angeles, then I am all for it.
Nick Torres (@Nickotee)
The Los Angeles Lakers need a superstar, and it looks like Indiana Pacers star, Paul George, is on the market. The Lakers are caught in a bit of a difficult situation because they can either trade part of their young core for George or wait until the summer of 2018 to sign him as an unrestricted free agent. Either way, they need to do everything they can to try and get him to don the purple and gold.
Personally, I would put everyone not named Brandon Ingram on the trading block to acquire an All-Star talent like George. I understand it is still really early in D’Angelo Russell’s, Jordan Clarkson’s, and Julius Randle’s career but it is not ever so often a superstar comes available that is considering coming back home. George would be a great fit alongside Ingram in the frontcourt for the Lakers. He would immediately make the Lakers contenders out West, although it will still be difficult for them to keep pace with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. He would also act as an enticing attraction for other free agents as well.
If the Lakers continue to lose, which seems likely considering they have lost eight games in a row as of Thursday, they must hope to keep their top-three protected pick. If they keep their pick, they would be able to draft Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, or Josh Jackson. Most Lakers fans hope that Ball falls into the team’s hand and imagining the trio of Ball, George, and Ingram is very entertaining.