Paul George is leaving the Indiana Pacers.
The 27-year-old star forward has reportedly told the Pacers and GM Kevin Pritchard that he will be leaving the team in free agency after his current contract runs out in 2018. Now, it’s up to the Pacers to make a decision with George, and part of that apparently is shopping him around to teams who are looking for a seasonal rental.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Pritchard has called other teams around the league looking for a partner to help them recoup some of the value stored in George as a basketball asset before they lose him for good.
One of those teams is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who recently lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games in the 2017 NBA Finals.
Via Yahoo! Sports:
In the past 24 hours, Pritchard has become more aggressive in pursuing trades for George, league sources told The Vertical. Pritchard has yet to show an inclination to engage the Lakers, but has discussed deals with several teams – including Cleveland – in which the expectation of teams would be that George is a “one-year rental.” The Cavaliers are devoid of the kind of young players and future picks that Indiana might want in return for George, and George has never mentioned the Cavaliers as an intriguing destination.
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.
We’ve seen fewer short term rentals for players in recent years due to the valuation of picks vs. players changing in the last decade, and George is slated to make $19.5 million next season. That will make it hard for any team currently in contention to make a swap for him, given the salary considerations.
George reportedly has stated his desire to the Pacers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, which will further put off trade suitors.
L.A. also seems unlikely to trade for George directly, although it’s possible there comes a scenario where they are involved in some kind of trade to jumpstart the core of that team early. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are not interested in trading for George at the moment, which would make sense if they think he’s just going to sign with them anyway.
Meanwhile, teams around the league will be looking at their dead salary (what little of it there is) and wondering how low the bar will go on George as Indiana tries to recoup their losses. With news of George’s desire for departure now public knowledge, their bargaining power has been significantly reduced.
Ah, the offseason. It’s already here, and it’s crazy.