Things change in a hurry in today’s NBA, particularly on trade fronts. A franchise might consider itself a contender one day, and then realize it’s time to blow it up the next.
The Lakers are surely monitoring the happenings in the Pacers’ front office as the second worst kept secret in the NBA is that the Lakers desperately wanting to acquire Palmdale, California native Paul George from the Pacers (the first worst kept secret is L.A. wanting to draft Lonzo Ball).
Larry Bird stepped down as Indiana’s President of Basketball Operations last month and GM Kevin Pritchard was elevated to Bird’s spot. The Pacers are meeting with Hornets executive Chad Buchanan to fill their GM role as well.
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On the surface, it looks like it’s going to be more of the same from the Pacers. They are going to take the conservative route, unless they get a “can’t say no” offer for George from the Lakers. Adding Buchanan wouldn’t exactly be adding Sam Hinke to the front office. The Hornets have a recent history much like the Pacers in that they have one star player (Kemba Walker in Charlotte) and can’t seem to add relevant pieces to get to the next level.
This may be window dressing, but George also told Pritchard that he wants to stay with the Pacers.
“Paul and I talked, I don’t know, 45 minutes to an hour,” Pritchard told the Indy Star last month. “We talked about a lot of things, and in every scenario he wanted to be here. He kept coming back to one statement that hits me hard, and we all know: He wants to win … The Pacers want to win. We’re on the same page.”
Pritchard also said, “It’s up to me to put a team around him.”
Under Bird, it seemed for certain that the Lakers would have to give up either their 2017 lottery pick or Brandon Ingram or both in order to land George.
Again – window dressing – but it doesn’t look like Magic Johnson is ready to give up either of those assets in a trade for George – particularly when George could be a free agent next summer.
“I would say the only player that we would say, hey, we would probably not move is Brandon Ingram,” Magic told ESPN last week. “I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about; you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”
In addition, it’s become more apparent than ever that the Lakers are going to draft Ball with the No. 2 overall pick, as Ball won’t even work out for the Celtics. Danny Ainge will likely try to get something out of the Lakers by hinting that they want to draft Ball No. 1, but even the inexperienced Magic will likely see through that charade.
The Lakers’ best bet to land George might be to wait until the February 2018 trade deadline. It’s highly unlikely the Pacers won’t get something for George before he walks out the door.
With their front office still in flux – the timing for a trade around next month’s draft just might not be right for Indiana.