NBA Trade News: Lakers likely to pursue Paul George at deadline

By @saihoops on
Paul George, NBA Free Agency 2018
Nov 10, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) shoots the ball defended by LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. USA TODAY Sports / Mark D. Smith

The Los Angeles Lakers will make a strong run at Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George ahead of the Feb. 8 NBA Trade Deadline, according to a new report. George, a native of Palmdale, California, has been strongly linked with his hometown franchise for nearly a year.

Although the Thunder are still perceived as a legitimate threat to the mighty Golden State Warriors, Billy Donovan's team is off to a losing start (5-7) and could potentially explore a Paul George trade in February. Since George has the option to walk away as a free agent, the Thunder front office could be tempted to get a haul of young players and draft picks to secure their immediate future. 

Since the Thunder own George's Bird Rights, they are in prime position to outbid free agency suitors in July. However, the Thunder front office is unlikely to persist with its current trajectory of an expensive roster and the luxury tax ramifications, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

"If we're being honest with ourselves, this is a one-year run with this team. They have one chance with this team because they cannot bring back this team together next year. Even if Paul George re-signs and says 'I want to stay.' Financially, it is impossible for this team, I don't want to say remotely look the same, but the idea of Carmelo, Westbrook and George on the same roster withe Melo opting into his salary next year," Wojnarowski said on his podcast over the weekend.

Thunder could be forced to explore Paul George trade

After adding Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to the roster, the Thunder is paying a hefty luxury tax bill of approximately US$25 million (AU$32 million) for the 2017-18 NBA season. If the Thunder and George agree to a five-year, max contract, the luxury tax bill will skyrocket further next summer.

"This would be an incredible bill for the New York Knicks, the Lakers or Steve Ballmer to pay, never mind Clay Bennett in a small market like Oklahoma City," Wojnarowski added, ruling out the possibility of Thunder bringing back the Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

It's no secret that the new Lakers front office, led by Magic Johnson, is attempting to clear cap space for two superstar free agents next July. They created cap room this summer with hopes of putting together a potential Super Team next year. Besides Paul George, the likes of LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Isaiah Thomas will enter free agency next July. Stay tuned for the latest NBA Trade News.