The Indiana Pacers received the news they had been dreading this offseason as their superstar Paul George has reportedly informed them that he’ll not be re-signing with the team and will opt out of his contract.
The news comes as a huge blow for the Pacers and they’ll now have to plan for a future without one of the league’s best two-way players.
According to reports, George told his agent to inform the team’s new president Kevin Pritchard that he will be leaving and prefers to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
That will be news to the ears of Purple and Gold fans and Magic Johnson, in particular. The Hall of Famer was hired as the team’s president of basketball operations towards the end of the season and has been tasked with bringing the Lakers back to a competitive level where they can compete for championships once again.
With PG13 on board, they can make him the cornerstone of the franchise and he would be key to making Los Angeles an attractive proposition for other All-Stars.
L.A. may be a likely destination for the 27-year-old in the long-term, but it appears he may be set to join another organisation in the short-term.
Per multiple reports, upon being told of George’s intentions, Indiana began engaging teams in trade talks for the four-time All-Star, which has included a phone call to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs are fresh off a loss in the Finals and are keen to improve their roster in order to compete with the loaded Golden State Warriors.
The Ohio-based outfit is prepared to enter into trade discussions even without the guarantee of PG signing an extension with them.
With LeBron James, Cleveland is in a win-now mode and the franchise must maximise its opportunities to win championships while he’s still in the prime of his career.
Unlike the Dubs, however, the Cavaliers will not have sufficient cap space to feature four All-Stars on the same team and therefore any potential deal may have to include Kevin Love.
After averaging 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals in the regular season, George upped that production to 28 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals in a first-round playoff loss to Cleveland in April.
He showed the Wine and Gold what he’s all about in that series and they need a player who can produce at a high level in the postseason if they are to dethrone the Warriors.