Despite his seeming dissatisfaction with the Indiana Pacers and the burning desire to win an NBA ring, Paul George dismissed the talks of his imminent transfer to another team, purportedly any of the Los Angeles Lakers or the NBA Finals 2017 runner up Cleveland Cavaliers. "I'm a Pacer," George declared this week.
And George was quick to add: "I'm under contract for next season." So there's nowhere to for now but play for the Pacers and hope the team will fare better. Rumors of him wanting to exit Indiana gained more traction when the team was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers round one of the 2017 playoffs. It was another shot at the Finals for George that readily melted away so it was hardly surprising that he would want to do it the Kevin Durant way.
KD had his way and now has a ring so George might want to follow suit. But it's not going to happen for Season 2017-18. For one, according to Bleacher Report, there is no sign the Pacers front office will be willing to let go of George.
Not even a faint hint from Kevin Pritchard, the man who succeeded Larry Bird as Pacers' basketball operations chief, and head coach Nate McMillan even as ESPN reported that the two have already met with Paul. To date, no details on the conference have been provided and George has kept mum on the matter.
But what is clear, the Pacers are making George available to any other NBA teams for next season no matter the deal on the table.
And that's like saying the plan for George to come home to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers is shelved at the moment. George keeping the Pacers jersey is a locked on for next season but for Season 2018-19, "it's anybody's guess," ESPN reported.
Now what's on the immediate horizon for George? Bleacher Report said the player is likely to play out his remaining contract worth $19.5 million and then weigh on the available option when the agreement expires. The best guess is George will look to secure a long-term deal in the open market and ink with a team that best fits his requirements.
That team has to be championship contender and willing to pay his asking price. ESPN said the list includes the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks and the Lakers. The latter seems an easy pick for George as suiting up for the Lakers will mean playing closer to home.
But the current Lakers is in the rebuilding process and the core now mostly consist of young bloods that could take some time to reach the wining phase. In short, joining the Lakers is not the same template used by Durant to wear an NBA rings. The Golden State Warriors are already formidable, KD only added some more firepower for the kill.
So it seems the natural destination for Paul George would be the Cleveland Cavaliers. But according to ESPN, "George nixed the notion of joining the Cavaliers and teaming up with LeBron James."
George himself has indicated that playing alongside King James seems unnatural for now. "I don't talk to LeBron at all. We don't communicate ... and figure out where one another's going."
But as mentioned above, things could drastically change for George in Season 2018-19 with relation on his quest for an NBA Finals appearance and subsequently secure a win.