The Los Angeles Lakers were once the rumored home of Paul George in 2018 according to CBS Sports. However, that might not be the case anymore. While George was with the Indiana Pacers, he mentioned his desire to play for his hometown Lakers. Since then, he’s been dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the rumors, only from the media’s standpoint has stayed alive. That might be due to the success of Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram.
The issue the Los Angeles Lakers are facing is that George plays the same positions that Kuzma and Ingram currently occupy. So, what are the Lakers to do once the free agency period hits? Do they put either Kuzma or Ingram on the trade block and pay George the price of a small island, or do they stick with their two young studs and play the hand they were dealt?
Even with Paul George stating his desire to join the Lakers, the truth is, the Lakers may not need him. While the thought of George coming to Los Angels had Lakers fans rejoicing after losing Kobe Bryant, no one expected the upward strides Ingram would have this season or the emergence of Kuzma.
If the Lakers are hell-bent on bringing George in, where does he play? Do you bench Kuzma or Ingram after their impressive season? While both are young and still adjusting to the NBA game, a move like this could backfire on the Lakers. As the trade deadline approaches, the Lakers still must find a way to rid themselves of at least two contracts. The first is Luol Deng and the second is Julius Randle. Deng is making $18 million just to sit and watch and Randle must be traded before he walks away from a crowded frontcourt and the Lakers receive nothing for a skilled player.
By trading Randle or possibly Brook Lopez, the Lakers can begin their rebuild without the services of Paul George. If Ball is the answer at point guard and the Lakers do not decide to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope then a Randle or Lopez deal can either swing a draft pick or a serviceable player to add to their young core. Letting go of the dream of landing George won’t be the end of the world for the Lakers if they chose their players over adding an expensive one.
Kyle Kuzma got buckets for #NBAXmas.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 26, 2017
Where Magic Johnson might be reading the tea-leaves wrong is the notion that the Lakers must have a ready-made superstar on the team. If that’s the case, then why not groom one who’s already in uniform? This is what happened with himself and Kobe Bryant. It wasn’t about the trades then. What the Lakers need is a player the fans can get behind and that has been Ingram and Kuzma this season. George is a good player but his contract could ruin the team for the next four to five years.
It’s all about the long game now with Los Angeles. The current Lakers team already has two players capable of posting numbers similar to George or even better for way cheaper. The Los Angeles Lakers should keep Ingram and Kuzma, and spend the money they had reserved for Paul George somewhere else.