The Los Angeles Lakers are hours away from being on the clock at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, with the second pick in the NBA draft, but the focus is squarely on deals they could make Thursday and beyond.
Specifically, all eyes are on the Indiana Pacers and their willingness to move Paul George, who has informed the team he plans to leave in free agency next summer and would prefer to play for the Lakers, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
But as of Wednesday night, the Pacers didn’t seem to be in a rush.
Citing league sources, the Indianapolis Star‘s Nate Taylor reported the Pacers “don’t feel pressure to get a deal done” by the time the draft starts at 7 p.m. ET Thursday.
In other words, the Lakers have yet to present a deal that truly interests the Pacers.
On Tuesday, both the Los Angeles Times‘ Brad Turner and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein had heard the Lakers were offering up a package that featured pick Nos. 27 and 28 along with either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle.
The Pacers weren’t enthralled by that proposal, and talks subsequently hit a standstill.
According to Taylor, the Lakers’ offer would need to “significantly improve to complete a deal that would send George to Los Angeles for next season.”
Now the pressure is on the Purple and Gold to pony up if they want to prevent a contender from dealing for George before he becomes a free agent.
Speaking of the open market, the Lakers announced Wednesday that swingman Nick Young has officially declined his $5.7 million player option for next season in order to become an unrestricted free agent.
And while Young just experienced something of a revival after averaging 13.2 points on 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 40.4 percent from three-point range under head coach Luke Walton, a reunion doesn’t appear in order, according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne:
To Shelburne’s point, the Lakers have made it clear over the past couple of days they’re prioritizing financial flexibility.
That was evident on Tuesday, when they reportedly agreed to trade D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick just to avoid paying the remaining three years and $48 million remaining on Mozgov’s deal, per Wojnarowski.
With Young seemingly out of the picture, the Lakers will now have to focus on adding shooters to the fold, whether it’s through the draft or free agency.
Last season, they ranked 19th in three-point attempts (25.7 per game) and 22nd in three-point field-goal percentage (34.6).
Continued development from Brandon Ingram and the addition of Lonzo Ball with the draft’s second pick could help in that regard, but the Lakers will have to shore up their depth on the wing if they want to avoid regressing in a department where they already underwhelmed.
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