Did The Lakers Blow It By Not Trading For Paul George In 2017?

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

A year ago, the Thunder drew curious glances for the risk they took in trading for just one guaranteed year of Paul George.

The Pacers drew criticism for their return.

And the Lakers drew praise for their patience. Why would they make a trade for PG when he’d already intimated they could acquire him without surrendering assets a year later?

What a difference 12 months make.

Victor Oladipo remade his body to launch himself to superstardom with the Pacers in 2017-18. Domantas Sabonis became one of the game’s most underrated sixth men.

Then on Saturday night, at a Russell Westbrook-hosted soiree, this happened:

George didn’t sign a deal that’d let him get out after another year. And he didn’t sign a two-year deal that’d take him to 10 years of NBA experience, with which players can then sign for up to 35 percent of the salary cap.

He made a four-year commitment.

This time last year, the Lakers, armed with one of the league’s most impressive collections of young players, easily could have topped OKC’s trade offer for George’s services. Oladipo was still thought to be overpaid, and Sabonis had spent his first season playing out of position at power forward, struggling as a result.

The offseason isn’t lost for the Lakers. A LeBron James signing seems likely. And if they do manage to trade for Kawhi Leonard, they’d still be able to afford a third free-agent star in DeMarcus Cousins.

But Kawhi missed all but nine games last season with a mysterious injury. And Boogie suffered a torn Achilles, an injury from which almost no one fully recovers.

Something tells me they wish they’d pulled the trigger for George a year ago.