The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to Indiana Pacers forward Paul George for a long time now as there have been numerous rumors implying that the Palmdale native is intent on joining his favorite childhood team one way or another.
George will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018, but with so many possibilities until that time comes, there has always been a question as to whether the Lakers should look to trade for George beforehand.
The Lakers recently landed the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft which gives them another asset in any potential trade, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical the Lakers are confident they will land George in free agency:
“For the Lakers, they are pretty confident and have a great deal of belief that they’re in position to get Paul George in 2018 whether he stays in Indiana or he’s traded elsewhere.”
This is an interesting mindset to have as it has come back to hurt the Lakers in the past. Kevin Love was someone who was long expected to join the Lakers, but that changed when he was traded to Cleveland. Additionally, players like Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook were supposed to have hit free agency already as well but opted instead to sign contract extensions.
Magic Johnson has already said that the Lakers will be more focused on the 2018 free agency class, which includes George and Westbrook than this summer’s so the idea of waiting for George rather than trading for him falls in line with that thought process.
This summer will be a very interesting one for the Lakers as the front office has said that they plan on making improvements to the roster and they have the assets to do so. It looks as if George may not be in those plans this year, however.