Lakers Rumors: L.A. Reportedly 'Pretty Confident' It'll Land Paul George in '18

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers speaks during the post-game press conference after the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2017 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers believe they'll be able to sign Paul George as a free agent in the summer of 2018, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:

Wojnarowski added on the podcast that he believes the Lakers have been told not to give up assets for George in a trade (h/t Gary Kester of Lakers Outsiders). 

George, 27, averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in the 2016-17 season for the Indiana Pacers. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 campaign. 

And he's has been consistently linked to the Lakers. Sam Amick of USA Today reported in February that "George—barring a title chance in Indy—is hell-bent on heading for Laker Land. This message has been sent throughout the NBA."

Additionally, Mitch Lawrence of the Sporting News reported in April, "A SoCal native, [George] has been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He's never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers' locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold."

Meanwhile, back in Laker Land the team's new president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, can't expressly say he wants to sign Paul George due to tampering rules. But he has already hinted that the team expects to make a run at 2018's top free agents.

"I don't think we're going to be a major player this year," Johnson said, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. "I'm looking forward to next summer."

And during an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in April, Johnson was asked what he might do if he saw George on vacation in the offseason.

“We gonna say hi because we know each other," Johnson told Kimmel (h/t Alysha Tsuji of For the Win). You just can't say, 'Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,' even though I'll be wink winking, like, 'You know what that means, right?'"

So any links between George and the Lakers aren't new. And the team could offer George the L.A. lifestyle, a big contract and a supporting cast of young players that includes D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac and whomever the team selects with the No. 2 pick this year, likely exciting point-guard prospect Lonzo Ball.

In other words, don't expect the George-to-L.A. buzz to die down anytime soon.