Indiana Pacers forward Paul George reportedly told the organization that he will leave the team next summer when he can become a free agent.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the Vertical was the first to report this and he also added that George prefers to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
George has a player option for the 2018-2019 season. If he makes an All-NBA team next season, he could sign a five-year max deal with $207 million dollars with the Pacers. If he signs with another team such as the Lakers, the deal would be four years and worth $131.5 million dollars.
It’s been long rumored that is where George wants to play once he would be available to choose where he wants to go but there’s also another option he’s been linked to, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Over the last several weeks, national analysts have linked him to the Eastern Conference champions because of his defensive ability and length which would be a great fit against the now NBA champion Golden State Warriors in order to stop Kevin Durant.
Woj has reported that Cleveland has had discussions about a deal although Indiana would like “young players and draft picks” in return. He also said Cleveland as well as other teams would take a risk on a “one year rental” of George.
Cleveland’s best asset is All-Star forward Kevin Love. They also have Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson as well as prospect Cedi Osman who is likely coming to the NBA this offseason as other trade targets.
Love has three years left on his contract at a now “cap friendly” contract and was playing his best basketball as a Cavalier during the postseason.
It would be a huge risk to give up an All-Star with multiple years left for another that could leave after one season.
Then there’s the biggest question of all, is Lebron James staying in Cleveland?
James can become a free agent next summer and the rumors have begun to swirl about him heading west to play for either the Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now those rumors could’ve been put out there by Lebron’s representatives to keep pressure on Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to continue spending the high payroll and to keep adding talent to keep Cleveland as a championship contender. Lebron will likely give no assurances to the organization he’s staying long term unless they make moves which further complicates trading for Paul George.
Cleveland should still attempt a run at George and convince him to stay once he arrives and they will have to recruit them here without Lebron unless he makes that phone call himself.
George has a history playing with Kyrie Irving with Team USA basketball which could help in the recruiting process. He’ll also have a chance next season to win a championship, something he hasn’t been close to playing for with Indiana.
Of course, the Lakers could offer young talent such as D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson as well as future draft picks in a trade which could help Indiana rebuild.
However, the Lakers have told people through the media they will not trade George as they know he wants to be there and can get him in free agency.
Currently they can’t offer George a max contract next summer due to terrible contracts they’ve given out recently in free agency to Luol Deng and former Cavalier Timofey Mozgov.
Other teams that could be interested in George include the Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets, and the Boston Celtics.
This will be an interesting situation to watch going forward and with the NBA Draft on Thursday, a deal could happen at anytime.