Will Paul George Be The Next Laker Star? Maybe
March 30, 2017
Paul George has a year remaining on his contract with the Indiana Pacers. Then he becomes a free agent. With the end in sight, Pacers President Larry Bird had trade talks with at least five teams before the recent deadline but no deal was made, Magic Johnson called Bird. The former great players for the Lakers and Boston Celtics weren’t reliving their remarkable playing careers. It is likely Johnson inquired about getting George in a trade sometime next season.
A trade makes sense for the Pacers, who would get a player or two rather than getting nothing if George leaves as a free agent. And a trade makes sense for the Lakers who need an established NBA veteran to go along with their roster of talented but inexperienced players. Or maybe it doesn’t.It is well known around the NBA that George, who attended Knight High in Palmdale and then starred at Fresno State, has LA on his mind. His desire to join the Lakers has been described as “real and well known.”So the Lakers might wait until they can sign him as a free agent and not give up players. Perhaps they’d have to sacrifice Julius Randle, DeAngelo Russell or Jordan Clarkson in a trade. But what if George decides to take advantage of the new NBA rule that significantly rewards free agents who remain with their teams? He could make extra millions by staying put.
He’s just what the Lakers need – a four-time NBA all-star who’s been honored for his defensive work besides his superb offense. As I write this column I’ve just learned that George scored 37 points in a recent Pacers game. Whatever happens in the chase for George I rank this as the ultimate test for the Lakers regarding the NBA’s new rule regarding free agents. George definitely would be happy to play for the Lakers. But he would have a much higher contract with the Pacers. With the new rule it’s assumed the Lakers will have a big problem trying to sign any elite free agent. But George could be the exception. We’ll learn how important it is or isn’t for this star player to come back to the state where he grew up.