Paul George reportedly has told the Indiana Pacers that he plans to become a free agent during the summer of 2018 and hopes to head west, to the Los Angeles Lakers.
George, who is from Southern California, hasn’t requested a trade, but wanted to be up front with Indiana, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported the news. George’s decision not to re-sign with the Pacers after the upcoming season will have implications for this summer’s moves as well as those of next summer and will give the Pacers the chance to try to work out a trade involving George to get players or draft picks, rather than losing him as a free agent. However, he’s likely to be seen as just a one-year rental, diminishing whatever the Pacers might be able to get in return for him. His motivation could be to land with the Lakers sooner rather than later.
For the Lakers, who are presumed to be taking Lonzo Ball in the draft Thursday, landing George would be a significant step toward luring other stars as Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka rebuild the team. George, who suffered a gruesome broken leg while playing for Team USA in August 2014, has had the best seasons of his career the last two years.
Last week, he struck a different tone with Indianapolis media. “I’m here. I’m a Pacer,” George said (via IndyStar.com). “Again, what I’ve been dealing with is stories. You guys talking or teams talking. I’m a Pacer. There’s no way around that. This is my team, my group and this is where I’m at.”
Maybe he meant just for the 2017-18 season.