Paul George has made it very clear on where he would like to play.
While this isn’t exactly a surprise, George has now informed his Indiana Pacers that he will leave the team in the summer of 2018 and wants to be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Before today, it was mainly just speculation that George wanted to play for his hometown Lakers. Now, to many Lakers fans around the world, it now feels that getting Paul George is a tangible idea.
The Lakers have struggled in recent years on getting an all-star to join their team. Many players scoffed at the idea of joining a team that had no veteran talent and they did not want to be part of the rebuild. Fast forward a couple of years, and now the young talent that the Lakers do have grew up and developed into solid players with signs that they will keep improving.
The latest asset that the Lakers have that can sway Paul George to joining them next year is the #2 pick that the Lakers own.
If the Lakers do select Lonzo Ball and Paul George decides to join them next summer, the Lakers could roll out a starting line-up of D’Angelo Russell, Lonzo Ball, Paul George, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. George would mesh well with this line-up since players that can shoot and create their own shot would be on the floor with him. He would likely find easier lanes to drive in with this team than he does what his current team.
Next summer, Paul George turns 28 years old meaning he will still be in his prime throughout his entire max deal if he does decide to sign with the Lakers. He would also benefit from the youth and development that he would join since they will only get better year after year and they could help carry the load once George exits his prime.
While the Lakers did not win many games this year, they do promise an exciting future. That future would look a lot better with the 3-time NBA All-Third Team player who averaged an incredible 23.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. George instantly has the Lakers looking at possible playoff contention since he is one of the best small forwards in the game.
However, the Lakers might not want to wait until next summer to get this highly talented player out of Fresno State.
Paul George currently has one more year left on his contract before he can opt-out and become a free agent. Teams have been shy of trading for him so far since he has made it clear he wants to play in Los Angeles, however contending teams will be looking to trade for him now.
A team like the Cleveland Cavaliers might be willing to trade for George and get him on a one-year rental, hoping that he would stay with them after the year once he tastes some success in the playoffs. The Lakers currently cannot offer to that to George and it puts them in a dilemma. Do they wait until 2018 where it is known that he prefers to play for the Lakers, or do they trade for him now to get him to sign an extension long term is what Magic Johnson and the Lakers staff are currently deciding.
The Pacers currently want two first-round picks and a starter in return for their all-star. This asking price is too steep for a team like the Lakers who feel very confident that he would just join them next year in free agency. However, if the Pacers were to come down from their asking price and maybe take a deal of the Lakers 28th pick and Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers would be very intrigued.
Getting Paul George this year could also help the Lakers recruit future free agents to join them as they look to get back into the playoffs and start contending for championships. It is easier for big-name free agents to join a team once an all-star caliber player is on that team, and this is what the Lakers have been lacking.
Potential free agents in the summer of 2018 include LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook and DeAndre Jordan. With the recent news that LeBron may want to play for a team in Los Angeles, the addition of George would definitely make that idea more interesting.
This much is certain, the rumors about Paul George joining the Lakers will not stop until he is either a member of the Lakers or he signs a contract elsewhere. Paul George has the chance to become a Lakers legend if he ultimately decides to represent the Lakers historic franchise.