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NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers expecting to have to wait for Paul George

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Apparently having the two-way star’s Bird Rights in hand is not worth two in the bush.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Still unwilling to part with Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t “expecting to acquire” Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, reports the Orange County Register’s Mark Medina.

Without including their top-tier assets, LA’s low-ball offer centered around either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle can’t top what the Boston Celtics reportedly laid out on the table, nor could it presumably match the young talent Indiana could receive in a multi-team trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets.

Of course, this Manifest Destiny-approach on behalf of the storied franchise’s brass means that there is risk involved for George’s preferred destination as well as his current team.

By setting their sights on signing the two-way star once he hits free agency next summer, the Lakers are taking the chance that George won’t be irreversibly wooed by a contender during his one-season layover.

Meanwhile, if President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka can’t be leveraged into blinking first, then going all-in with the Celtics and waiting for Gordon Hayward to make his free agency decision could turn into a high stakes gamble for the Pacers. On the occasion that the Brownsburg native spurns the team in green, it’s possible others suitors might dilute their offers in response.

Sure, the Lakers might get Paul George at the cost of nothing in 2018, and the Pacers could end up nabbing some of Boston’s coveted assets in exchange for a one-year rental. Whether pursuing the possibility of those outcomes is worth sacrificing the certain advantage of the four-time All-Star’s Bird Rights or other outstanding offers will become more clear once free agency opens on July 1.

Hayward is expected to meet with the Boston Celtics on Sunday.