Paul George’s decision to unveil his free-agency plan next summer has forced the Indiana Pacers to shop him days before the NBA Draft. At least five teams – including the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers – initially reached out with the Pacers in an attempt to salvage the superstar swingman. However, the game suddenly changed when the Los Angeles Lakers, who are viewed as the overwhelming favorites to sign the All-Star next summer, made its entry in the bidding war for George’s services.

The Rumor

Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Lakers and the Pacers have begun talks for Paul George.

According to the veteran NBA insider, the Lakers are expected to send the two late first-round picks (27th and 28th), Julius Randle and possible Jordan Clarkson in exchange for George. Stein confirmed the negotiations are currently at a standstill because the Pacers are also demanding the Lakers’ no.2 pick, but Mike Medina of the Southern California News Group is reporting that there’s a high possibility George will be traded to the Lakers or another team on or before the day of the NBA Draft on June 22.

What does it mean for the Lakers?

Team president Magic Johnson can no longer wait for George’s arrival next year. He’s now making a serious bid in bringing him on board this summer with a multi-million contract extension in the offing.

The Lakers might have already sensed that letting George join a contender like the Cleveland Cavaliers or Los Angeles Clippers even if his camp insists he’s just for a one-year rental involves too much risk. There’s no assurance George won’t fall in love with his new team, especially if they go all the way to next year’s NBA Finals.

Lakers now in great position for long-term success

Adding George to their current core of promising players ( Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr. and Ivica Zubac) would only mean the Lakers are determined to make some serious noise in the Western Conference next season after missing the postseason for four consecutive years.

Lonzo Ball’s impending arrival along with Tuesday’s trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick would already give the Lakers’ a formidable roster capable of contending for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. At the same time, the Lakers put themselves in a position to create enough cap space for next summer as they attempt to make a run at LeBron James or Russell Westbrook.