Inside Sports

Paul George could put the Lakers back on the map if and when he leaves the Pacers

Paul George could put the Lakers back on the map if and when he leaves the Pacers

Welcome to the return of Lakers exceptionalism.

The phrase was coined by Tom Ziller of SB Nation back in 2012, defined as the Lakers’ ability to attract stars as trade or free-agent targets simply because they were the Lakers. Their storied history was enough, regardless of the front office, roster or coaching. In 2016, Ziller wrote that Lakers exceptionalism was dead, and he was right. The Lakers flubbed meetings with LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015 and failed to secure a meeting with Kevin Durant. The Lakers are not mentioned (yet) in discussions about Chris Paul or Gordon Hayward, with only murmurs about Blake Griffin as a possibility.

Unless the Lakers could prove once again they were a legit, they were no more special than Milwaukee or Memphis or Charlotte. Enter Paul George.

When trade rumors involving George surfaced at February’s trade deadline, there was a curious note accompanying the idea that the Pacers would deal the franchise star. USA Today was the first to report George wanted one of two…

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