The Los Angeles Lakers are searching for a superstar, and it appears that they have their sights set on Indiana Pacers forward Paul George. Rumors have been flying for some time now about George returning home to Southern California, with some going so far as to say that he is “hell-bent” on being a Laker.
George has one more year left on his deal with the Indiana Pacers before he has a player option to become a free agent in the summer of 2018. The Pacers are currently rumored to plan on attempting to keep George and convince him to stay, but it appears that could be because their trade options are extremely limited. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explains why:
You should buy stock in George heading to L.A. The vibe I’ve gotten from talking to NBA executives and agents over the past few weeks is that teams aren’t willing to sell the farm for George because of the possibility that he’ll sign with the Lakers is so strong.
This makes a lot of sense, as teams should be hesitant to give up major assets for a player who could just be a one-year rental. The tidbit on George is part of a larger piece on LeBron James, and O’Connor believes both players could team up in Los Angeles:
If LeBron takes a longview, it’d be easy to see the Lakers’ existing potential. Once you factor in another year of development for their young core, add their draft pick this summer, toss in signing Paul George next summer, then add LeBron, suddenly it’s a roster with a blend of impact players on cheap contracts and veterans ready to win now. A mix of vets and youth is how to build sustainable winners in the NBA.
O’Connor also notes in the piece that the Lakers would have to do some salary cap gymnastics in order to sign both George and James. In fact, just signing George next summer would require that a move be made to free up space, but adding both would almost certainly mean that the massive contracts of Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov would have to be shed, and that will come at a heavy cost.
Still, adding a pair of superstars in George and James would be worth it. Even if James decides to stay in Cleveland, just landing George would be a major coup for the Lakers and would put them back on the right path. Los Angeles has struggled in recent years, but with a few signings their fortunes could change very quickly.