The Los Angeles Lakers don’t have a ton of incentive to trade for Paul George now that he’s made it clear to the Indiana Pacers that he wants to join the purple and gold in free agency. That’s probably why the Lakers are reportedly unwilling to offer any members of their young core in a deal for George, which is in turn probably why the Pacers have yet to talk to them about a trade.
It’s a multi-million dollar game of chicken right now between the two NBA franchises, with Indiana trying to drive up leverage by reportedly attempting to “move fast” in any deal they make with the Cleveland Cavaliers or any other NBA franchise.
That type of talk is all well and good, but until there is actual action, the Lakers have very little incentive to change their position. It sounds like that is the exact approach the rest of the league expects them to take:
Two NBA sources expect Lakers to parachute into Paul George talks if the Cavs are closing in on a deal. Unclear if #2 would be on the table.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 19, 2017
Would the Lakers give up real assets if they sense George was about to be sent elsewhere, giving a new team a whole year to pitch him on re-signing before he hits free agency? It seems likely, although that should depend on the level of confidence they’re getting in George heading their way in free agency through whatever back-channel conversations they may or may not be having with his camp.
In a vacuum, it’s a poor decision to give up assets for a player you could just sign in a year (or if things go badly, lose in a year). However, the Lakers haven’t had a player of George’s caliber in a long time, the type of player that entices other free agents to come join up in Los Angeles. The No. 2 pick seems like too much to give up in that case, but throwing one of the lower-tier young players like Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Jr., Ivica Zubac or the No. 28 pick into a deal in order to try and entice Indiana to not send George elsewhere might be worth the gamble if they fear he’ll re-sign with Cleveland.