Let the Paul George saga continue.
Booming news was dropped on Sunday, with Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that George has apparently informed the Indiana Pacers that he will leave the team in free agency in 2018.
George’s top choice for his landing spot? The Los Angeles Lakers.
We’ve heard rumblings about this for months, but if Wojnarowski’s report is true then it will have a huge impact on the trade and free agency market not only in 2018 but in 2017 as well.
George’s reported informing of the Pacers also allows Indiana to make appropriate plans over the next year.
Via Yahoo! Sports:
George hasn’t requested a trade before he can opt out of his 2018-19 contract, but did have his agent, Aaron Mintz, tell new Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard that he wanted to be forthright on his plans and spare the franchise any confusion about his intentions, league sources told The Vertical.
George can sign a four-year deal worth as much as $130 million with Los Angeles next year. George is a Southern California native and playing for the Lakers would represent a homecoming for him.
George plans to play out the 2017-18 season with Indiana, but wants to give the organization the chance to plan appropriately for its future – which George told the team won’t include him, league sources said.
There now appears to be some kind of expectation that the Pacers and Lakers could initiate a trade for George, so Indiana doesn’t lose him completely as an asset. Julius Randle has been floated in trade talks — he doesn’t appear to fit Magic Johnson’s vision for the team — and could be part of a nice get in a package for George. Then again, if the Lakers are sure they’re going to get George anyway, that trade could come elsewhere. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is reporting that L.A. does not plan on trading young assets for George.
Indiana lost the opportunity to sign George to a Designated Player Veteran Exception when he missed the All-Star Game this year, but reading the situation at this point it’s hard to tell if that would have been a huge swing for the Pacers as they tried to keep their star. As noted above, L.A. can still give George a $130 million contract.
Meanwhile, the Lakers suddenly are in a great position to expand. With the No. 2 overall pick likely to be Lonzo Ball, a nice little core around D'Angelo Russell, Ball, George, Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Ingram allows them lots of options around the wing and even more in the trade market.
This is a bummer for fans in Indiana, but we’re still a year away from George being gone. Things change, and the NBA is where crazy happens.