Paul George wants to return home to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers. While that sounds like great news for Magic Johnson and company, the franchise should absolutely not attempt to trade for George.
George has reportedly been telling his Indiana Pacers teammates that he wants to play for the Lakers. In fact, he’s been saying that for years. He’s frustrated with the direction of the franchise and wants to play back out West. Larry Bird and the Pacers front office is almost certainly aware of that, and could try to move PG13 this summer.
George is under contract through next season and also holds a player option of $20.7 million for the 2018-19 campaign. The Lakers are in the midst of a massive rebuilding project and while it has been slow going, the young core has shown promise. Breaking up that group to add a soon-to-be 27-year-old wing with an injury history would be the height of stupidity. Additionally, even if they get Paul George the Lakers won’t be contending for a while. He maybe makes them a playoff team but that’s all.
The Lakers feature one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. With Brandon Ingram (19), Ivica Zubac (20), D’Angelo Russell (21), Julius Randle (22), Larry Nance Jr. (24) and Jordan Clarkson (24) Los Angeles has a solid young group that could grow together. The Pacers would certainly ask for at least two of those guys in exchange for George. In addition to that, those kids need the ball in their hands to develop. Bringing in a ball-dominant wing is not the way to help young guys get better.
The Lakers rebuilding project will continue to be painful for fans and the front office, especially if they lose their pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. But the long road to competitiveness will pay off if Los Angeles stays the course.
A lot of noise will be made over the next few weeks that connects George and a triumphant return to Los Angeles. But Johnson and the Lakers should steer clear. If the team is ready to compete after next season and George is a free agent? Then we can talk.