The Los Angeles Lakers have started to express interest in going all in for star forward, Paul George this offseason. Now some people might think this idea is farfetched, but there is a possibility of it happening, and I will discuss the pros and cons for both teams in this article.
Although it is highly unlikely Indiana would deal away a younger star in the league, they could weigh their options. George has been the leader of this team for the past few years, but has never been able to lead them to a finals appearance. This is not all George’s fault, as the roster has been sub-par the past two seasons, as well as a nearly season long leg injury, but still makes you question if he does have that ability. With rumors that the Pacer’s organization is unsure about bringing back Frank Vogel as their head coach, people are going to wonder if they want to go in a different direction with the team. The front office has expressed it desire to score more points, and although George is known for his excellent defense his offensive game is not too shabby either.
If Indiana does decide to go all in for a new rebuild, Los Angeles does have some intriguing prospects to deal. If this deal would be completed, D’Angelo Russell would be the only player Indiana would even start to consider for the frameworks of a deal. Russell is not going to cut it for a player of George’s level, so they would also have to toss in their top three lottery pick to make the trade work. Even this might not be enough to get Indiana to pick up the phone, but it could get them thinking, and that is all the Lakers are trying to accomplish. Another big turn off from trading George is the fact Indiana is only a few role players away from competing for the Eastern Conference crown. LeBron James is not getting any younger, and his outside shooting his horrendous, which will weaken Cleveland in the next few years, but the rest of the East is starting to develop their talent, and the conference is not as much of a joke anymore. Now George just turned 26 this week, so he has another 6-8 years of dominate basketball left in him, so Indiana still has time to develop around him without wasting his talent.
Let’s say a deal is made for George. Indiana receives Russell, a top three pick, and a couple second round picks to sweeten the deal. Russell instantly improves the point guard position if they decide to play him there, which also allows George Hill to come off the bench for a season, and mentor Russell, and be a vocal leader for the bench. A top three pick could allow for Indiana to chase after prized prospects Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons. Simmons would fit nicely in with the floor stretcher/rim protector Myles Turner. Ingram would add another dimension to the scoring unit alongside Russell. Now with all those players being under 21, Indiana would have a fantastic young core to enter the next generation of Eastern Conference basketball with, and the chance to go after titles in two to three years.
Los Angeles Lakers:
We hear this same headline almost every season now. I do usually make a mockery of these headlines, but this one actually makes sense to me. Los Angeles just lost their most iconic star to retirement in Kobe Bryant, so why not bring in Paul George, who is a California native, who has long admitted that Kobe Bryant was his idol growing up. Adding a top twenty player might just be what Los Angeles needs to start attracting big names players back in free agency, especially with the big names of Kevin Durant this offseason, and Russell Westbrook next season.
Los Angeles does have a few nice young players they are developing. Russell and Julius Randle have begun to excel at their positions, while Jordan Clarkson has a nice scoring touch, which could land him a sixth man role once a better distributor is found. Breaking up this core would not be easy, but you would be given up potential for a sure thing in George. Another issue would be given up a top three pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. If the Lakers were able to get a Brandon Ingram, they would now have the small forward they need, and a very deadly offensive one at that. The only issue for Los Angeles is that they have historically drafted many of their dominant players, but in recent years have switched to free agency to make an impact. With the front office in win now mode, these assets are not viewed as high as they should be by the organization.
The deal has been completed, let us see how this would work out. The Lakers have a starting line-up of Clarkson-Williams-George-Randle-?. In free agency, the top names will be Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, Festus Ezeli, Ryan Anderson, Harrison Barnes, Nicolas Batum, Bradley Beal, and Mike Conley. Los Angeles is obviously not going to be able to attract all of these players, but they could add at least one. Although Durant and George would be a devastating duo on the court, I think the Lakers need to fix their center position if they want to compete in the Western Conference. I cannot see the Laker Nation being okay with another Howard run, but going there unproven route of Ezeli is an intriguing one. Golden State will likely be only able to keep only one of the pair of Ezeli or Barnes, so teams like Los Angeles can use their cap room to kill off some depth from the defending champs. Ezeli is a defensive monster, who is also starting to develop a good offensive game. The Lakers might be able to steal him away with a deal in the $12-$15 million range, versus paying Howard, Horford, or Whiteside $20 million plus a year. If the Lakers are willing to do some smart shopping, they could quickly add many role players around George, and be a contender again in a very short period of time.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17