Lakers Trade Rumors: LA Reportedly Won't Flip Young Stars to Land Paul George

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers reacts against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 106-102 to sweep the series 4-0. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers won't prioritize trading for Paul George over holding on to their promising young players, ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported Sunday. 

According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, George has informed the Indiana Pacers of his plans to opt out of his contract after the 2017-18 season, with the Lakers as his preferred next destination.

Shelburne reported the Lakers "do not currently intend to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers."

Wojnarowski reported Pacers team president Kevin Pritchard is speaking with teams about trading George, but he has reportedly yet to open a dialogue with the Lakers.

For now, the Lakers have little reason to aggressively pursue a George trade. While he may want to play for them now, his feelings about staying in Los Angeles long term may change with one bad season.

When the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard in 2012, most expected him to re-sign with the team the following summer. Instead, he signed with the Houston Rockets after a disappointing year in Los Angeles.

The Pacers also don't have much leverage in trade negotiations, unlike the Minnesota Timberwolves' situation with Kevin Love in 2014 when it became clear he'd leave the team. The Cleveland Cavaliers were in win-now mode and had no assurance they'd be able to sign Love the following offseason, so they had little choice but to pay a high price for the All-Star power forward, shipping No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins over in exchange. 

The Lakers are still at least another year or two from contending for a top-four place in the Western Conference, and their front office should feel relatively confident about their ability to court George in free agency.

Taking those two factors into account, general manager Rob Pelinka would be smart to play hardball with the Pacers and avoid trading for George altogether if the cost is one or more of their young cornerstones.