Sources: All-Star Paul George tells Pacers he plans to leave franchise in 2018 free agency, prefers Lakers. https://t.co/anP4bvbwir— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 18, 2017
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since rumors about George’s desire to play for the Lakers once he became a free agent began circulating several months ago, but it appears as though the Pacers are beginning to take action. With hope of retaining him dwindling, the Pacers appear to be ramping up their attempts to get some value back for him in a trade. The Lakers are one potential suitor for any trade proposals but The Vertical is reporting that there is a market for a one-year rental of Paul George out there and the Pacers are not set on only trading him to the Lakers.
Sources: Indiana's Kevin Pritchard engaging teams on trading Paul George, but so far, not Lakers. There's a rental market, but how robust? https://t.co/oM9XrATMr9— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 18, 2017
Teams interested in adding George to the roster will likely expect him to stick to his word and only play for one season before bolting for L.A. The Cleveland Cavaliers are an obvious target for Indiana since they could potentially work a deal centered around Kevin Love and hope to give one more shot in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Love and George are relatively comparable talents but George’s ability to guard multiple positions might help the Cavaliers match up against the Warriors’ length and versatility. The Cavaliers might see LeBron James’s window closing since he’ll be 33 years old by next year’s NBA Finals.
Other teams may be willing to offer low on a one-year rental of George in hopes that he will either make that one year worth the price of adding him or that he will change his mind about wanting to leave for L.A. once he gets familiar with the team, coaching staff, and city. The Denver Nuggets could be among those teams although thus far, no reports have surfaced regarding their interest. George fills a need as a go-to scorer and versatile defender at the forward positions. However, Denver isn’t likely to put too many of their young pieces on the table in any trade talks with the Pacers.
According to The Vertical’s report, the asking price coming out of Indiana right now is fairly high.
It is unclear how robust offers to Indiana will ultimately be, given that teams believe he will sign with the Lakers next summer. So far, Indiana is asking for a substantial package of talent and draft picks for George, league sources said. Discussions could extend until Thursday’s NBA draft – or beyond.
George is set to earn over $19 million next season and has a player option for the 2018-19 season that he is likely to decline even if he is traded. If George were to leave Indiana this summer, the Pacers will be left with a pretty bare roster in terms of win-now talent. They have two centers in Myles Turner and Al Jefferson, a wing in Thad Young, and a scoring combo guard in Monte Ellis to go along with a plethora of underwhelming young prospects on cheap contracts.
George, who just turned 27 years old, scored a career-high 23.7 points per game last season on a career-high 46.1% from the field. He is a career 37% three-point shooter.