The news everyone had been waiting for broke Sunday, when Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reported that Paul George’s camp had informed the Indiana Pacers he planned to leave as a free agent in 2018 and preferred the Los Angeles Lakers as a destination.
While it would seem that was setting the stage for the Lakers and Pacers to talk about what type of trade package it would take to get George to Los Angeles early and give the Pacers an asset or two so they don’t lose their franchise player for nothing, it sounds like Indiana may not be able to hope for very much in exchange for George.
While on some level the Lakers have to let this type of info out publicly as a leverage ploy in those potential trade talks, the always-plugged-in Ramona Shelburne of ESPN is reporting that as of right now the team isn’t planning to mortgage it’s future while pursuing George:
Although George would constitute a significant acquisition for Los Angeles, the rebuilding Lakers do not currently intend to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
This is smart on the Lakers part, although there is a chance they could ultimately budge and find a middle ground with Indiana. Complicating matters is that George shares an agent with Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, making it seem unlikely the Lakers would send either of those players out in a deal for him.
If the Lakers do ultimately decide to give up assets for George, they would be wise to not offer more than something like this:
And that deal is lopsided enough that the optics might be bad enough that the Pacers would rather risk losing George for nothing. However, the Lakers also shouldn’t feel obligated to give up much more than that, given how transparent George’s camp has been about its desire to see him back in Southern California.