The prudent thing for the Lakers to do this offseason would be to continue to build the franchise back up through the draft, but Magic Johnson was brought in two months back to accelerate the process in Los Angeles.
It’s why we should expect major NBA fireworks in L.A. this summer, and the most likely scenario for a spark again centers around Indiana’s Paul George. At the NBA trade deadline, USA Today’s Sam Amick reported that George is “hell-bent on heading for Laker Land” and that “that message has been sent throughout the NBA.”
These are not whispers. These are shouts. The only issue here is the timing of it all.
George won’t be a free agent until the summer of 2018, when he has a player option to jet from Indy.
Magic wants to put his GM stamp on the Lakers as soon as possible and the temptation of landing George in a trade this summer will likely be too enticing. Expect the Lakers to try and trade their first round pick (currently No. 2 overall with the NBA Draft Lottery slated for May 16) to Indiana in exchange for George. The prospect of nabbing a player the quality of Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz or Josh Jackson surely will be appealing to Bird – who has to know by now that George is frustrated by the lack of progress in Indy. The Pacers have been stuck in neutral for years, and desperately need to pick a direction.
“Say what you want – I want to compete for something,” George told ESPN Radio in February. “It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.”
It’s highly unlikely that Magic would relinquish one of his young “Big Three” along with the first round pick in a trade for George. Los Angeles simply has to hope that things remain dour with the Pacers.
Indy is currently 37-40, firmly in No-Man’s Land in the NBA – without a hope for a title run this year or in the next five years. The Lakers are in much better position, with young assets. In other words, the Lakers have already served their Lottery Land punishment.
How would this starting five look for the Lakers next year:
G D’Angelo Russell
G Nick Young
F Paul George
F Brandon Ingram
F Julius Randle