The Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers have reportedly started discussing a potential trade for Paul George. While George is an All-Star and an outstanding two-way player, the Lakers would be idiotic to make a move for him now, when he has made it abundantly clear he wants to head home to LA next summer anyway.
George will opt out of his contract after the 2017-18 season regardless of who he’s playing for. I think that includes the Lakers. He wants the freedom to pick his own team and do a free agency tour. So even if the Lakers get him this offseason, he’s going to opt out. Why give up assets for a guy who could potentially be gone after one year? Even if you’re 99 percent sure he’ll re-sign as a free agent, that 1 percent is still there.
The Lakers have made it clear they’re not parting with Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s 2017 NBA Draft. That leaves the 28th pick in the draft and several players on the roster as potential targets for Indiana. If I’m the Lakers I don’t offer more than Jordan Clarkson and the 28th pick. Is that enough for George? Probably not, but there is no reason to offer more.
Some have thrown out the idea of parting with D'Angelo Russell in exchange for George, and while I see the logic of that proposal I still think it’s moronic. Russell has been in an awkward position in his first two seasons in the league. He had a coach who didn’t believe in him as a rookie, then transitioned to a new system under Luke Walton in Year Two. He’s more of a combo guard and if the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball he’ll be able to slide off the ball into a better position for his game. He still has a ton of value.
The Lakers have as good a shot as anyone at Paul George next summer when he becomes a free agent. Surrendering any assets for him now would be the height of folly.