How Larry Bird stepping down could impact Paul George's future

Toronto Raptors v Indiana Pacers

Just as news broke about Larry Bird stepping down as president of the Indiana Pacers, the next question came quick, as it's an important one for the direction of the franchise.

What will happen with Paul George?

Now that Bird is out of the equation, how does the situation with George, the team's best player, get resolved?

After Bird's departure, Kevin Pritchard will take over for the Pacers. Pritchard, who played at Kansas and with five teams over a six-year NBA playing career, developed a reputation as a willing trade partner while running the Portland Trail Blazers.

After being let go by Portland, Pritchard became director of player personnel in Indiana and then later became general manager under Bird, who will reportedly stay with the Pacers as a consultant.

Monday's introductory press conference with Pritchard will surely feature a lot of questions about George, but probably little in the answer department.

Portland Trail Blazers v Seattle SuperSonics

George will be a free agent next summer and has reportedly expressed interest to people around the league that he's interested in going home to the Los Angeles Lakers (George is from Palmdale, California).

Adding confusion to the table is that if George reaches one of the three All-NBA Teams this year, he can be offered a more lucrative contract by the Pacers to the tune of about $70 million.

Of course, the Pacers negotiating a deal with the Lakers to send George there this offseason would entail talks with Bird's longtime NBA rival, Magic Johnson.

The two are friends now, but maybe Bird was looking for an escape from going head-to-head with his friend on an important franchise-changing deal.

NCAA Championship Game: Michigan State Spartans v North Carolina Tar Heels

At least one league expert believes Bird stepping down increases the chances of George being moved this summer. Check out this tweet from Paul Flannery of SB Nation.

George is truly one of the league's stars, but his performance in the playoffs was underwhelming, especially off the court. His discontent with the organzation could signal that his run with the Pacers is over.

For their interests, Indiana might want to get something nice for George this offseason instead of letting him walk next summer for nothing. On that end, it's too bad about the George-to-LA signals from Indy's perspective, as that hurts the trade value of their best player.

Bird, the Boston Celtics Hall of Famer and Indiana native who led Indiana State to the 1979 NCAA Championship game, is also a former coach for the Pacers.

After three years as coach of the Pacers, Bird spent the next 17 years in the Indiana front office.

He's letting someone else dictate where the franchise geos from here.

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