With the rumors flying that the Pacers are interested in a total franchise tear down, the vultures are beginning to circle the roster with offers for Indy’s top talent. Frank Vogel has no certainty about his future with the team, and the Pacers greatest asset, Paul George, could bring back a king’s ransom.
The Lakers have been looking to land their next great star for the last 4 offseasons, their only successful transaction being the acquisition of Dwight Howard, but that scenario fell flat on its’ face when Howard opted for Houston. However, the Lakers have kept their nose to the grind and drafted high upside, young assets that have shown promise, and the rest of the league has taken notice. But what would it take to get Paul George to Los Angeles? Lets take a look at some potential trades:
Lakers first round pick (IF slotted 3) and D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Bass, and Lou Williams for Paul George
This is the type of hefty return the Pacers expect to get back for their 26 year old superstar Paul George. George currently has 2 more years on his contract and a $20 million player option at the end of the deal, which he would likely opt out of if his play on the court continues its’ upward trajectory. Bass and Lou Williams are throw ins to help balance the salaries, and would help the Pacers tank next season if they give heavy minutes to both role players. The biggest incentive for the Pacers making this deal is they receive both a solid point guard for the future, and a top 3 pick in the draft, both of which will be on extremely team friendly contracts for the near future. The selection of players available at 3 will likely be Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, and a slew of other high upside prospects that could help them ensure a top 5 pick for the 2017 draft, if that is the direction the Pacers choose to go in. The Lakers have to gut nearly half of their roster and send away their draft pick, but with the acquisition of George, luring free agents would make Mitch Kupchak’s job that much easier.
Lakers first round pick (IF slotted #1 overall), Larry Nance, and Jordan Clarkson for Paul George
Although the ‘Trade Machine’ didn’t send this one through, it’s simply because Clarkson is a Restricted Free Agent, and his salary will obviously be much larger than the $845K he made last season. This deal would require Clarkson to agree to be sent to Indy in a sign and trade deal, which may put a major snag in the process, but if the Pacers agree to pay him his max salary, that could be the trigger to send this trade through. The Lakers can offer Clarkson a four-year contract up to $88.9 million, while other teams can only offer him a max of $57.8 million over four years or $34.1 million over three years. The incentive is built in for Clarkson to sign his deal with the Lakers, even if he winds up playing in Indy. The Pacers receive two nice pieces that are ready for heavy minutes, and get their choice of Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram with the first overall selection in the draft. The Lakers may be paying an exorbitant price, giving up Clarkson AND the number 1 pick, but they receive their desired superstar and don’t have to overpay to keep Clarkson, freeing up a massive amount of salary space to potentially sign another max free agent.
D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle for Paul George and C.J. Miles
This trade failed in the ‘Trade Machine’ for the same reasons as above, Clarkson must agree to a max salary sign and trade to Indy, and the salaries balance out. The Lakers would be giving up all three of their high upside prospects, but would be receiving a borderline superstar, and a solid starter to help spread the floor for him. The Lakers also get to keep their draft pick (if indeed they still own it after the draft lottery), but should they lose the pick on lottery night and remain desperate to make this deal, there is a scenario where PG can still start the 2016-17 season as a Laker. The Pacers would land themselves 3 very young players, two of which are cost controlled, and would have Clarkson as the featured player in their offense (on a long term contract).
There is no easy way for this deal to go down without the Lakers giving up a king’s ransom, especially when dealing with the savvy Larry Bird, but if the Lakers are dead set on finally landing that elusive superstar, they must be willing to part with some combination of their high draft pick and their young, upcoming stars. Your move, Indy.