Paul George’s revelation of his free-agency plan next season made decision-making a lot easier for the Lakers leading up to June 22 NBA Draft. With a bona fide superstar small forward coming to Los Angeles in 2018, Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are now reportedly zeroing in on playmaking prodigy Lonzo Ball out of UCLA.

The rumor

NBA Draft analyst Chad Ford is reporting the Lakers have finally settled on Ball at no.2. The former UCLA Bruins standout is rated as one of the best prospects in this very deep draft class, and has been widely projected to go to the Lakers months before the draft process began.

However, the Lakers have not shown any indication they are going to select Ball. In fact, there were rumbling about the team’s interest in other prospects such as Markelle Fultz of Washington and Josh Jackson of Kansas.

But with the onset of the Sixers-Celtics trade and George’s announcement he’ll be leaving the Pacers next summer with the Lakers on top of his list of destinations, things have become clearer for Magic and Pelinka. And the first step in the process is to select a pass-first playmaker in Ball, who topped the nation in assists at 7.6 apg.

What does this mean for Lakers Nation?

Ball will finally fulfill his family’s dream – especially LaVar’s – of him playing with the Lakers. Many NBA scouts and College Basketball experts raved about Chino Hills product’s high basketball I.Q and court vision with some comparing his skill-set to NBA legend Jason Kidd.

The Lakers, who landed no.2 in the draft for the third straight year, are now expected to use their lottery pick for Ball. His impending arrival will force former no.2 overall pick and starting point guard D’Angelo Russell to off-guard position. Brandon Ingram will likely step into the starting lineup at the small forward spot with Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov (if not traded this summer) occupying the other forward positions.

Paul George’s homecoming

The Lakers’ rebuilding effort will come in full circle next year when George decides to opt out of his contract with the Pacers and eventually sign with the purple-and-gold next summer. Magic stressed ever since he assumed the role as the Lakers’ top decision maker that he wanted a superstar on his roster, and George certainly tops his wish-list.

George, who averaged 23.7 ppg and 6.6 rpg last season, has been dropping hints about his inevitable Los Angeles homecoming in the foreseeable future. Then again, while the Lakers are the favorites to land the superstar, NBA contenders like the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers look to spoil the purple-and-gold party as reports indicate their interest of trading for the star, even if it’s for a one-year rental.