The Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers have finally “engaged” in trade talks surrounding All-Star forward Paul George, but finding a package that works won’t be easy.
With George having his agent tell Indiana he has no plans to re-sign there and would prefer to head to Los Angeles, the Lakers seemingly have little incentive to give up any members of their young core for him, which is reportedly the exact stance they’ve taken in talks.
Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN went so far as to report that one Lakers source said there was “zero chance” the Lakers would give up Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in any deal for George.
The obvious odd-man out there is D’Angelo Russell, but despite trade rumors with his name in the over the past 24-hours, it sounds like there are very clear off-the-court reasons Russell (or likely Julius Randle) is going anywhere:
On Lakers-Pacers front: Paul George & D'Angelo Russell have same agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA, & he would like them to play together. Tricky...— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 20, 2017
Ah yes, that too. Mintz also has Lakers' Julius Randle. https://t.co/iWc7vQYHmQ— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 20, 2017
With Mintz extricating George from Indiana, it does seem unlikely he’d want to send any of his clients back there. It remains to be seen if that’s enough to keep them out of trade talks, but if Ingram, Russell, Randle and the No. 2 pick are all off the table, the best offer the Lakers might be able to do is something like Jordan Clarkson, Corey Brewer and one of the No. 28 pick/Larry Nance, Jr./Ivica Zubac trio.
Will that be good enough for the Pacers? It depends on what other offers they get despite George being clear he wants to end up in Los Angeles.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our episode on George below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.