As more seasons come to an end, NBA front offices are getting settled in for what could very well be an incredibly busy summer. The Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe extensively covers, the Toronto Raptors all ended playoff campaigns with more questions than answers.
The Los Angeles Lakers obviously did not participate in the postseason as they were once again out of the playoff race before the All-Star break, but hope to change that as soon as they possibly can. As Lowe puts it, they’ll be looking to take that leap as soon as this summer.
Multiple reports have surfaced already that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka don’t regard any of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle or the rest of the young core as untouchable in trades. That likely isn’t changing anytime soon.
Paul George has remained connected to the Lakers (he’s hell-bent times two!), but can’t return home without a trade.
So, in steps Lowe to connect the dots in the middle of a larger piece on the Raptors’ future options.
Ready? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
“The Lakers will dangle prospects for Paul George.”
Peak efficiency from Lowe, to be honest. This is a single sentence in a lengthy article on a completely different organization, but it certainly is worth noting.
A George trade would still be incredibly difficult to put together and would require the Pacers realizing they can go no further with George as their lone superstar.
It’s also worth discussing whether the Lakers should pursue such a deal. In a vacuum, they have leverage heading into discussion with newly-promoted Kevin Pritchard manning the Pacers. As soon as other teams get involved, however, George’s price tag goes up.
The Lakers have assembled a fairly nice cupboard of assets to dangle, but carving out a major chunk for a player who seems as reportedly intent on getting to L.A. as George does doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Not trading for George is a risk, too, because of course this has to be as complicated as possible. It’s in Pritchard’s best interest to move George before the trade deadline for anything he can get. Losing a player with George’s talents for nothing in free agency is the type of misstep that haunts franchises for years. Just ask the Lakers.
So, if Pritchard moves George to another team (especially one contending for a title) and George likes where he winds up, the Lakers miss out on yet another superstar in his prime.
Paul-George-to-the-Lakers rumors aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it will be interesting to see more details as they become public. Lowe’s otherworldly efficient report feels like just another domino in a process that’s sure to captivate the entire league.
Anthony Irwin is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here or listen to our latest episode on the offseason below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyIrwinLA.