Good news, Los Angeles Lakers apologists: Paul George will consider signing with your team in free agency.
If he gets there.
Which isn’t slated to happen until 2018.
From The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
For teams considering a trade for George, here’s the risk: As a free agent in the summer of 2018, he has considered re-signing with Indiana or joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, sources tell The Vertical.
Teams trading for George run the risk of losing the four-time All-Star to a Lakers franchise that will have the salary-cap space to sign him in 2018. The Lakers’ hiring of Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations will be an interesting twist to George’s free-agent recruitment, given that Johnson has been something of a George family icon going back to George’s childhood in nearby Palmdale, Calif.
All of this becomes moot if George makes an All-NBA team and qualifies for the Designated Player Exception that would allow the Indiana Pacers to offer him a fat five-year extension that would be tacked on in addition to his 2017-18 salary.
If he fails to make an All-NBA team, though, his trade market will heat up over the offseason. The Lakers have young pieces they can dangle in any deal—Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., whoever they draft this year (if they keep their top-three protected pick), etc. But their best bet might be courting him in 2018, when he declines his player option, hits the open market and can be had without torpedoing the current core—again, assuming he even gets there.
We’re a ways off from this issue being resolved. George isn’t going to be moved before the trade deadline, and we won’t know if he qualifies for the DPE until season’s end. Still, Lakers fans at least have the license necessary to monitor this situation over the next few months.