The summer of 2018 cannot come fast enough for fans of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ever since the Indiana Pacers reportedly tested the trade market last month for their star player, Paul George, the Lakers have been heavily linked by a number of reports to be a preferred destination if he hits the free agent market after next season.
George, a Southern California native that played college basketball at Fresno State, could potentially earn immensely more money from the Pacers in free agency, especially if he makes one of the All-NBA teams either this season or next, making him eligible for the Designated Player Exception. This new wrinkle in the league’s collective bargaining agreement allows teams to offer a massive amount of money to retain their own star players with a contract that crosses the $200 million mark.
However, with Indiana seemingly stuck as a lower-seeded playoff team, there seems to be a chance — albeit a relatively slim one at the moment — that George could prefer a change of scenery, leaving money on the table.
The Lakers have accumulated a promising, young group of talented players that could appear to be attractive after next season if they show significant progress under head coach Luke Walton.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Los Angeles is already attractive to the Pacers star (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll).
“George’s interest in L.A. is real, and widely known,” writes Lowe. “But nothing is certain until you get that signature, and every day between now and that July 2018 day brings the risk of some unknown variable messing up your plans.”
Will George still be an option by the time the summer of 2018 rolls around? New general manager Rob Pelinka and president Magic Johnson could always try to trade for him this summer, seeing as the Lakers have the young pieces to do so. Will the price be too high? Will they roll the dice and hope George becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season?
Only time will tell, but we will know a lot more in just a few short months.