Amico Hoops reports that the Lakers and Pistons “may have already connected” regarding a potential deal. Rumors earlier this month indicated the Pistons were willing to give up their No. 12 pick in the draft if the right impact veteran was available.
I’ll let you decide how much emphasis should be placed on the weasel word “may” in the above statement.
Pistons head honcho Stan Van Gundy is never shy about admitting he has lots of discussions with lots of teams, but is always clear that it doesn’t anything is plausible, imminent or even likely. For all we know, this “connection” might have ended with SVG laughing in Magic Johnson’s face or vice versa.
The Lakers could be especially motivated to make a deal after weekend reports indicated Paul George has informed the Indiana Pacers he has no intention of re-signing after next season, and that his preferred destination is Los Angeles.
There are indications contending teams, such as Cleveland, have already engaged Indiana in a possible one-year rental for George. This, in turn, has called some to speculate the Lakers could be motivated to swoop in now to get George invested in LA ahead of his free agency decision.
The Lakers are unlikely to part with the No. 2 overall pick in a George deal, but if they could secure an additional lottery pick then it might be a big part of a package they could send to the Pacers.
The calculus is difficult, however, in that the Lakers would have to hypothetically send value to Detroit while also maintaining enough value to send along to the rebuilding Pacers.
That means unless the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft has more value to both the Lakers and the Pacers than one of LA’s struggling young players Brandon Ingram or D’Angelo Russell (extremely unlikely) they are off the table. Julius Randle also makes little sense.
In regard to Russell, if the Lakers are unwilling to part with No. 2 overall, it means they are likely interested in selecting Lonzo Ball. That would make Russell expendable. Jake Fischer at Sports Illustrated reports that multiple teams are evaluating trade packages for Russell. It’s hard to imagine, however, that the No. 12 pick would be more enticing than Russell in the Pacers’ eyes, or that LA couldn’t get a better deal elsewhere.
And “impact veterans” is not a label I would put on anyone in Los Angeles right now. The Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts are a mess and Jordan Clarkson had an awful year on an awful team in the first year of a four-year $50 million contract.
So, really, no deal makes much sense. That being said, Magic Johnson seems like an executive interested in shiny baubles (Paul George, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, you name it), so anything is possible.