Last week, the Lakers secured the #2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Many believe that pick will go towards drafting UCLA standout Lonzo Ball (along with his slightly vocal father, Lavar Ball).
I’ve heard of many scenarios that could take place this offseason. But one thing is for sure: the Lakers hold a lot of leverage with regards to their future with that #2 pick. In all honesty, no one on the Lakers current roster should really be considered untouchable (and yes, that includes previous #2 overall picks D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram).
After finishing what was arguably the worst season in Lakers franchise history and the first season of the “post-Kobe” era, the Lakers don’t really find themselves in a very promising position. Magic Johnson has a lot of work to do as the new President of Basketball Operations and I’m fairly confident that he won’t make any decisions similar to those of his Dream Team teammate Michael Jordan when he was running things in Washington (we all want to forget that Kwame Brown ever happened–smh).
Indiana’s Paul George has already expressed interest in returning to his hometown of Los Angeles and his Pacers don’t seem to be in the best position to make a run at a title any time soon. To make matters worse for Pacers fans, the fact that George wasn’t named to any of the All-NBA teams, means that the Pacers won’t be able to offer him an additional $70-million incentive to re-sign with the team next offseason.
In other words, if Paul George is serious and does want to head west for Los Angeles, the Pacers could end up losing him for nothing in free agency in 2018. That’s a huge risk to take for a team that’s one lost superstar away from being in complete rebuilding mode.
This where the Lakers hold an advantage. The best option for the Lakers moving forward, if they do plan to pursue Paul George in free agency next season, would be to offer up one of their young assets in exchange for his services. There is no reason or incentive for the Lakers to give up their #2 draft pick in the deal. If the Pacers chose to gamble on the hopes that Paul George will resign and he doesn’t, that’s a nightmare scenario for their front office. And the Lakers would be able to not only retain their #2 pick and any other players currently on their roster but also have a shot at signing Paul George next summer at no cost to them.
It’s a win-win situation in Los Angeles. It would be within the Pacers best interest to ship Paul George to LA via a sign and trade in exchange for a few of their young assets (see this trade via ESPN Trade Machine for example).
A potential lineup of: G – Lonzo Ball, G – Jordan Clarkson, F – Paul George, F – Brandon Ingram, and C – Julius Randle could be fairly solid moving forward.
If I’m the Lakers, that’s the plan I go with moving forward.