Clearing cap might be the path the Lakers are taking to try and sign LeBron James next summer, but it also felt like this surely had to be the precursor to the move everyone is waiting for — a trade for Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George — right?
The reports pointed that way, with word it was “highly likely” the Pacers would deal George before the NBA Draft coming out of Lakers land. The whispers coming out of Indiana, however, are pointing towards a different picture.
According to Nate Taylor of the Indy Star, the Pacers are “considering multiple trade offers for George, but the team doesn’t feel pressure to get a deal done by Thursday.”
The Lakers have reportedly offered the Pacers their pick of Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson and the No. 27 and No. 28 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and one would presume if the Pacers were going to take that offer they would want to make those picks. If they don’t get a deal done by Thursday, that won’t be an option.
Adding to the reports of a lack of urgency coming from Indiana was Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, who says that the Pacers are still far from committed to sending George to the Lakers (h/t Real GM):
"The Pacers have not shown much enthusiasm for the Lakers' young guys," said Adrian Wojnarowski. "I think they think they can get better. The market is interesting on George. There's a lot of action with him. There's a lot of teams trying to get involved. I think Kevin Pritchard has done a pretty good job of working to manufacture a market for him after Sunday when it felt like teams were (expecting the Pacers) to get a mid to late first and maybe an okay expiring contract. They're going to get more than that.
"I think there's a few teams who think maybe we can flip him over the course of the year. If he gets traded to a good team and they think can win. If the team achieves in some of the bigger markets, even some of the midsize markets, they're willing to take a flier on Paul George.
"The Pacers aren't dying to help the Lakers here. They're not trying to do right by Paul George and give him what he wants, which is a move to L.A. They're going to take what they think is the best deal out there for them and move him, and if that turned out to be the Lakers, they would do it.
"The Lakers are walking a line of 'we don't want to give up too much because we know we can get him in free agency next summer, but we need to be involved and try to do it now because you never know what will happen.'"
It’s hard to imagine teams giving Indiana more than what the Lakers are offering if George’s camp continues to espouse his commitment to ending up in Los Angeles, but the Pacers are certainly doing an admirable job of making it appear as though there is a frothy market for George. We’ll see if it entices the Lakers to up their offer.