According to two tweets today from Brad Turner of the L.A. Times, the Clippers and Lakers are each in pursuit of star forward Paul George, who has informed the Indiana Pacers that he will not re-sign with the team when he enters free agency in the summer of 2018. As a result, the Pacers are attempting to trade him, although the reports have lowered his market value.
The Clippers, who have limited assets, apparently “didn’t get far” in talks to acquire the All-Star wing, while the Lakers made a minor move this afternoon to position themselves to offer a better package. New Lakers management, led by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, moved 2015 2nd overall pick D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. It’s a rather surprising move to totally give up on Russell, who is a promising young guard, but it will free long-term money for the Lakers and give them another draft pick to offer the Pacers.
Can confirm Clippers reached out to Pacers about Paul George, as @ESPNSteinLine first reported. Clippers doing due diligence. Didn't get far— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 20, 2017
While it’s totally believable that the Clippers didn’t have enough to offer the Pacers, it’s less believable that the proposed Lakers package has any chance of fetching Paul George. By moving DeAndre Jordan for a first round pick and packaging that pick with a future first and Austin Rivers, the Clippers could easily top the Lakers’ offer. Clarkson is a decidedly mediocre starter, but the real issue is the lack of value in those two extremely late picks. Nowhere in that Lakers offer is a real building block—potentially the kind of building block that Indiana could draft with the pick DeAndre Jordan could fetch.
The most likely scenario is still that the Lakers end up with Paul George—but I expect that they’ll have to do better than Clarkson or Julius Randle packaged with two late first rounders.