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NBA Free Agency Rumors: Lakers ‘confident’ they can sign Paul George in 2018 even if he’s traded somewhere else

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Los Angeles may not be willing to give up much for the All-Star if they believe they can acquire him in free agency.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers’ connection with Paul George of the Indiana Pacers is one of the largest stories of the summer, but this still may not be the offseason in which the team ultimately acquires the Southern California native.

According to the always-plugged-in Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, the Lakers “are pretty confident and have a great deal of belief that they're in position to get Paul George in 2018 whether he stays in Indiana or is traded elsewhere.”

If that’s true, it would mean that the Lakers wouldn’t have to give up any members of their young core for George and could sign him into cap space next summer, something Wojnarowski essentially confirmed.

“They don't have to give assets up to go and try to trade for him. In fact, I think they've been encouraged to do just the opposite,” Wojnarowski said. “If Paul George is gonna go there he wants them to have assets, he wants them to be as good of a team as they can when he walks in.”

If George actually wants that, then it seems incredibly unlikely the Lakers would gut their team to trade for him. However, it is worth noting that the Lakers’ pursuit of George will still be heavily affected by the announcement of All-NBA teams.

Should George make one of the three All-NBA outfits, he’ll be eligible for a five-year, $207 million designated player extension under the new CBA, compared to the $130 million, four-year deal another team like the Lakers can offer George next offseason, a difference of nearly around $9 million in annual salary.

Still, Wojnarowski’s report makes it appear as though this isn’t a Carmelo Anthony situation where George is so hell-bent on getting to his desired destination that he’s willing to put them in an asset-less hell to make it happen. If the Lakers truly believe George is really willing to be patient and wait for next summer, they shouldn’t really offer the Pacers anything for him and just sign him into cap space in 2018.

All quotes transcribed via the Vertical. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.