Common logic holds that if Paul George really wants to come to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, the team should just wait for him. Why would they give up assets if they can sign him for nothing next summer, right?
In a vacuum, that logic makes sense. In the real world, there are other factors to consider. What if George changes his mind between now and then? What if he gets traded somewhere else and re-signs there? What if he’s insulted the Lakers didn’t try to get him right away?
None of those hypotheticals are a certainty by any means. George could very well be so “hell-bent” on getting to the Lakers that he patiently waits out the season in Indiana and joins the Lakers in the summer of 2018.
According to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet, the Lakers would prefer not to take their chances with the best player to show interest in the franchise in several years:
Following up @ESPNSteinLine + @ramonashelburne report, LAL would rather acquire Paul George now than FA '18, BUT wary of giving up too much.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) June 20, 2017
With the Lakers not being willing to trade Brandon Ingram and the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle likely not going to Indiana by virtue of sharing an agent with George, the ways the Lakers could give up “too much” are fairly limited.
The best offer they can put on the table might be something like Jordan Clarkson, Corey Brewer and one of the No. 28 pick/Larry Nance, Jr./Ivica Zubac trio. The Lakers could possibly err if they started offering two of those final three pieces, but ultimately if that’s what it took to ensure Paul George would put on a Lakers uniform it would be hard to argue with the front office.
As long as the Lakers aren’t out there offering the No. 2 pick, Russell, Randle or Ingram it’s hard for them to go wrong.
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.