How badly does Paul George want to play for the Los Angeles Lakers?
So badly, he’s openly spoken about it in the past, according to former teammates.
From the Sporting News’ Mitch Lawrence:
A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.
If this is actually the case, and George is beyond determined to become a member of the Lakers, team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have no business trading for him. Wait for him to reach free agency in 2018, then sign him, so you don’t have to gut your roster. George shouldn’t have a problem waiting if he really wants to wear purple and gold; joining a squad that mortgaged the farm to get you doesn’t always work out (see: Anthony, Carmelo).
Yes, other teams will try trading for George—assuming he doesn’t qualify for and sign the designated player exception with the Indiana Pacers by making an All-NBA team. But he will still have the right to become a free agent after next year (player option).
For the Lakers, building a package around kiddies and this year’s first-round pick, provided they keep it, should be a last resort if we’re talking about someone who’s truly bet on getting to Hollywood anyway.