Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Paul George is expected to be the top free agency target of the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. Having a 2018 player option on his contract, the 27-year-old small forward has the ability to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. As of now, George remains focused on helping the Thunder in the ongoing 2017-18 NBA season, but he continues to express his desire to play for his hometown team.
As the Thunder go to Los Angeles to face the Lakers and the Clippers, Paul George, once again, was asked about the rumors circulating between him and the purple and gold. George said he doesn’t regret talking about playing for the Lakers in the future.
“No, no regrets at all. All that was said was that a destination I would love to go to,” George said, via NBA.com.
Upon assuming front office role, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka already revealed their plan to pursue at least two superstars next summer. In order accomplish their goal, they will be needing to clear enough salary cap space for two maximum players. They started by trading Timofey Mozgov and his lucrative contract to the Brooklyn Nets last offseason and expected to move Luol Deng next.
Aside from Deng, the Lakers will also need to dump Jordan Clarkson and renounce incoming free agents Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Julius Randle. This will give them the ability to give Paul George a maximum contract and sign another superstar. According to SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins emerged as “best potential dance partners” to George.
“As far as free agency goes, that’s no slam dunk either. While the potential free agent pool is still deep, Westbrook, Embiid, and Wiggins all signed extensions, leaving LeBron and Cousins as the best potential dance partners to Paul George in the purple and gold. Other top free agents all carry heavy injury history asterisks, including Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, and Jabari Parker.”
As most people think, Paul George can’t bring the Lakers back to title contention alone, especially with the emergence of super teams like the Golden State Warriors. If the Lakers are serious about returning to the NBA Finals, adding at least two superstars next summer is a must.
Since the offseason, LeBron James has been frequently linked to the Lakers. Multiple signs are pointing out that he plans to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time and chase for an NBA championship title in another team. However, as of now, James remains silent on his upcoming free agency and said that he will reveal his plan when the 2017-18 NBA season is over.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are DeMarcus Cousins’ favorite team growing up. Since Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol, Los Angeles has been looking for a big man who can stay with them long-term. Cousins would be a great addition to the Lakers, especially with his dominant presence under the basket and ability to space the floor. However, like James, the outcome of the 2017-18 NBA season will play a major role in Cousins’ plan in the upcoming free agency.