Paul George has reportedly informed the Indiana Pacers front office that he would prefer to become free agent after Season 2017-18, firing up the rumors that the four time All-Star is about to switch uniform with sight set on the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Los Angeles Lakers. Will it be LA or Ohio for the 27-year-old superstar?
If the latest report from ESPN is to be believed, George appears headed to Cleveland. "The Pacers began shopping George's services this weekend, including a phone call to the Cleveland Cavaliers," the report said, citing multiple sources. Why Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard specifically reached out to the Ohio squad was unclear but a good bet is Pritchard is interested on acquiring one or two Cavs talents before letting go of George.
Aside from the Cavaliers, rumors also have it George would want a homecoming and the LA native would prefer playing for the Lakers. As of writing, however, there is no indication that Pritchard has made contacts with his counterpart in Los Angeles - Magic Johnson.
Sure, Magic might be very much interested on somebody like George and since the team is currently on a rebuilding stage the superstar joining the team is certainly more than welcome. However, CBS Sports said Magic is unlikely to go the extra mile to make sure that George will suit for his team. "The rebuilding Lakers do not currently intend to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers," the report said.
What likely the Lakers will do is to let the event take its natural course and hope that George, who has made known his desire to call LA home anew and suit up for the Lakers, would just drop on their lap if not for the immediate next season then after 2018. Such a ploy, however, is fraught with risks, according to The Ringer, which suggested for the LA front office to actively engage on exploratory talks with Pritchard on the possibility of acquiring George offseason.
And for good measure, Magic needs to make clear that the likes of D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle are on the table too for possible swap deals.
The Lakers holding back too much could George to strike an agreement with the Cavaliers, which ESPN said "are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland." The Cavs have this sense that once George got a taste of how it is to be Cleveland, the player will eventually ask for more.
"Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal," ESPN said on its report.
Another thing going for Cleveland is LeBron James considers the Indiana star a good buddy. "We've got a really good friendship, I'm going to leave it at that," King James said of his closeness with George.
But in welcoming George, James has to live too with the impending reality of losing core members of the Cavaliers. It is understood that for the deal with Indiana to push through, Cleveland will need to ship any of Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love to Indiana's way, or both.