Lakers Trade News: Paul George dreams of succeeding idol Kobe Bryant in LA, claims insider

By @saihoops on
Lakers Trade News, Paul George, Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (R) looks for an open teammate while being guarded by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Indiana March 15, 2013. Reuters / Brent Smith

Paul George, the Indiana Pacers superstar, is hell-bent on wearing the Purple & Gold, according to an NBA insider. A new report claims All-Star forward wishes to join hometown franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, either via free agency next year or a trade this summer

In the aftermath of Indiana's exit from the 2017 NBA Playoffs, analysts, players and front office executives collectively wondered if George had played his last game in a Pacers uniform. With Larry Bird stepping down as President of Basketball Operations, there's a growing belief that George won't be a Pacer next season. The new Pacers front office could look to press the reset button and build a young team around budding centre Myles Turner.

According to Sam Amick of USA Today, George has often fantasised about succeeding retired legend Kobe Bryant as the new franchise player of the Lakers. "George, who grew up in the Southern California town of Palmdale and always saw the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant as his preeminent basketball idol, there’s a transparent reality about his dream of seeing his name in the Staples Center lights," read the report published Friday.

Paul George trade: The Rob Pelinka factor

If George, 26, were to qualify for an All-NBA team, the Pacers can offer him the "Designated Veteran Extension" which amounts to a six-year, $US223 million (AU$294 million) contract. Surely, George would find it hard to leave all that money on the able. If George doesn't qualify for an All-NBA team, the Pacers would still be able to offer a five-year max contract at 30 percent of the salary cap. 

The report added that new Lakers general manager, Rob Pelinka, could persuade George to make a long term commitment due to his former ties with Bryant. Pelinka served as Bryant's agent for nearly two decades. "For George’s part, the prospect of building a winner in Laker Land still looms large. There’s even more of a Kobe connection in Laker Land now than there was at the trade deadline, too, with Bryant’s former agent, Rob Pelinka, having been hired in early March to serve as the team’s general manager. Bird stepping down from his Pacers post didn’t change any of this in the least," wrote Amick.

Last week, Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News reported that George told former teammates for years that he wanted to be a Laker in the long run. "A SoCal (Southern California) native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time." If a Paul George trade goes though, Magic Johnson & Co. would reportedly be hesitant to part with Brandon Ingram, D'Angelo Russell or the Top-3 protected draft pick. However, the might build a package around Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. The Lakers' immediate fate depends on the NBA Draft Lottery on May 16. 

Paul George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his seventh season for the Indiana Pacers. The two-way wing was drafted 10th overall by the Pacers in 2010. George led the Pacers to two Eastern Conference finals appearances besides making three All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams.