During the 2017 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers had the opportunity to acquire a legitimate NBA superstar when Paul George demanded a trade from the Indiana Pacers. The Lakers decided to pass on trading for George with the belief that they could acquire him in the 2018 NBA free agency without giving up valuable trade assets. Unfortunately, that proved to be one of the biggest mistakes the Lakers ever made in their franchise history.
When Paul George became an unrestricted free agent, he didn’t even give the Lakers a chance to make their own pitch and immediately signed a four-year, $137 million contract to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite failing to acquire George, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka still managed to fulfill their promise to bring a superstar in Los Angeles with the acquisition of LeBron James.
However, even though they already have LeBron James on their side, it still remains a big question mark if the Lakers can challenge the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference title. As of now, Brad Botkin of CBS Sports believes that the Lakers are regretting their decision not to trade for Paul George.
“I know the Lakers are high on their young guys, and that they likely would’ve had to give up either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram, if not both, to get George. I also know the chances of either Ingram or Ball becoming anywhere near the player George is are slim, and in the meantime, the Lakers would be a no-doubt title contender right now with George next to LeBron James and still a solid core of young and veteran players around them.”
Paul George is on pace to set a career-high for double-doubles https://t.co/QKfLvpF05e— The Thunder Wire (@The_ThunderWire) December 26, 2018
Pairing LeBron James with Paul George would have legitimized the Lakers’ status as a title contender in the league. Despite having both players under contract, the Lakers would still have the salary cap flexibility to chase their third star in the summer of 2019 with the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan are set to become an unrestricted free agents.
As of now, the only way that the Lakers will stop regretting their 2017 decision is if they acquire Anthony Davis before the February NBA trade deadline or during the 2019 NBA offseason. The Lakers already made it clear that they are only willing to give up their young players like Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart for a player of Davis’ caliber.