One of the biggest missions the Los Angeles Lakers set out on this season is proving to the star players they long for that they have tantalizing young talent to lead, should they decide it’s time to make the move to Hollywood. As Paul George prepares to face the purple and gold for the first time since openly asking to be traded to the franchise he grew up cheering for over the summer, the #FutureLaker buzz is back in the air.
George dropped an assortment of juicy quotes for reporters gathered in Los Angeles while the Oklahoma City Thunder visit for a few days. He not only called the tampering charges the NBA hit the Lakers with that he claims stemmed from discussing fishing trips with Brian Shaw “comical,” he offered up an incredibly optimistic evaluation of Lonzo Ball’s rookie season.
“I got a great impression on him. I think people are kind of down on him because he doesn’t wow you statistically — he can every so often — but that’s not the caliber player he is, especially right now,” George said.
.@Yg_Trece on @ZO2_: "...he is, at his age, one of the best basketball players that has played this game." pic.twitter.com/DI7wQgoKhA— Lonzo Wire (@LonzoWire) January 3, 2018
“As far as a basketball player, he’s at his age one of the best basketball players that has played this game. He just has a knack to play the game the right way, his ability to just make plays without it leading to an assist for him, but just to get the offense going.
“He’s just all around just a great basketball player,” George said, wrapping up his thoughts on Ball.
George won’t get to see Ball operate up close Wednesday night, with the Lakers ruling him out after the rookie guard reported feeling soreness in his shoulder after going through a workout Tuesday.
Even with the Lakers stumbling back to the bottom of the Western Conference, the literal star free agents the franchise has its eyes on — George most recently, LeBron James just a few weeks ago — sound like believers in Ball.
That’s worth something, we just won’t know how much until the free agency smoke settles in a few months.