UPDATE: Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News reports that a George trade is still “unlikely” as we approach the deadline. Original story follows.
Magic Johnson has hit the ground running in his new role as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, constantly working the phones trying to make deals before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
After trading Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Johnson immediately looked to his next move, calling old pal Larry Bird to check on the availability of Indiana Pacers star Paul George, according to multiple reports. Despite Johnson’s interest in bringing George back home to southern California, the Lakers swinging a deal to land the Pacers star before the trade deadline is considered unlikely at this point, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Shelburne notes that trade talks didn't advance past the initial inquiry, as Bird is reportedly just gauging the market in case he needs to trade George at a later date before he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. If George does hit the free agent market after next season, the Lakers will reportedly be one of his preferred destinations, so the team may be better off pursuing him then, keeping the young core intact.
Even though the chances of acquiring George before the deadline appear to be diminished, Shelburne also reports that the Lakers are still pursuing more deals, adding that the young players on the roster are not likely to be traded.
As for the possibility of more trades from the Lakers before the deadline, sources say Johnson is far more likely to move a veteran such as Jose Calderon or Nick Young than anyone from L.A.'s young core.
UPDATE: Per ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Lakers are looking to move Young and hope to receive a second-round pick in return.
It seems like Johnson is trying to get some type of return for some of the veteran players that may not be on the roster next season. Calderon’s contract expires after this season and Young can opt out of his deal and probably earn more money with the salary cap continuing to increase.
Seeing as the Lakers netted what will likely be a late first-round pick for Williams, any trade involving Calderon or Young will likely get them relatively low value, although you never know how different general managers value certain players.
There is certainly no guarantee that the Lakers make another deal before the deadline, but they are surveying all of their options. For the time being, though, George appears to be off the table. Perhaps the Lakers can gain another minor asset before the deadline and try again at a later date. Only time will tell, but expect them to be linked together in some capacity unless George inks a long term deal elsewhere.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @garykester.