The future of Indiana Pacers star Paul George was always going to be a huge talking point this summer as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract with the franchise.
George has been the subject of trade rumours for months with reports suggesting he was considering his future with the team.
On Sunday, the Pacers were finally given an indication of where PG13’s future lies and, unfortunately for them, it isn’t in Indiana.
As reported by The Vertical, the small forward’s agent informed new Pacers president Kevin Pritchard that he would be leaving as a free agent in 2018 and would preferably like to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
Per The Vertical, George hasn’t requested a trade before he can opt out of his 2018-19 contract, but he wanted to be clear with the organisation about his plans and spare them any confusion about his intentions.
It’s been no secret that the four-time All-Star has always had an interest in joining the Lakers as he’s a California native and was keen on moving back to the region he grew up in.
The 27-year-old can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2018 and Magic Johnson and the Lakers would be able to offer him a four-year max contract worth up to $130 million.
Just days ago, George said he intends to play for Indiana next season but he stopped short of committing his future to the franchise and it was an answer which only explained his intentions in the short term.
“I am a Pacer. I am under contract and I intend to play,” he said.
If and when he decides to leave Indy, George will be sacrificing a lot of money in order to do so, so he can’t be accused of departing for financial gain.
Indiana can offer him a five-year $177m extension as opposed to the four-year deal the Lakers are permitted to offer.
PG averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season and helped the Pacers reach the playoffs, where they were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round.
On multiple occasions last year, George publicly expressed his frustrations with the team and called them out for their lack of effort and desire to win.
His decision to seek a future away from Nap Town seemed inevitable and it now leaves the Pacers in a difficult position as they must plan for life without one of the NBA’s best players.