For the last few months, the rumor mill has been primarily focused on Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George‘s desire to join his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
This has only upped another notch on Monday as ESPN’s Zach Lowe is reporting that the Lakers are expected to offer a few of their young assets in trade scenarios for the All-Star forward.
Philly hopes to make a leap. Brooklyn will chase veterans in free agency. The Lakers will dangle prospects for Paul George. The Suns, Wolves and Kings will try to win games. The path from the playoffs to a top-4 pick is open.
Despite the team’s struggles in the last few years, Los Angeles has put together a roster full of young talent that is headed by D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram. The belief is that any proposed trade offer would have to include a couple of these players. The potential deals may be altered depending on if the Lakers retain their 2017 top-three protected first-round pick after the draft lottery later this month.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have continued to voice much optimism that George will remain with the team long-term, but have acknowledged it would require building a championship contender around him. Indiana has regressed over the last few years with back-to-back first-round playoff exits while finishing the regular season near the bottom of the postseason seeding in the Eastern Conference.
George currently has two years left on his five-year, $91.5 million deal that contains a $20.7 million player option for the 2018-19 season. If the 26-year-old is named to another All-NBA team this season, the Pacers would be able to offer him a new long-term contract that is $70 million more than any other team in free agency due to the “designated player” rule in the new CBA.
This allows for which allows for veteran players that meet certain criteria to earn more money when signing a new contract with their current teams. These accolades consist of NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Second Team, All-NBA Third Team.
All of this appears to be headed toward an intriguing offseason that could see a big push by the Lakers’ new management to end the longest playoff drought in franchise history.
Bob Garcia IV
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