Around the time of the trade deadline of the 2016-2017 NBA season, Indiana Pacers superstar, Paul George told the organization that he would utilize his opt out once the 2017-2018 season concludes, and he’d decide between resigning with the Pacers or sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. This breaking news led many other NBA teams who wanted to be buyers at the deadline to shy away from the Pacers and George because he came out and said he’s only interested in those two teams. And what organization wants to trade away the many assets it would take for George to be dealt for a rental worth 1.5 seasons?
Well now more time has passed and the situation just got worse for the Pacers when news came out about George saying he now will sign with the Lakers once he opts out. With the NBA Draft coming up later in the week, this might be the worst time for those comments to go public about only wanting to sign with the Lakers. The draft would have been an ideal time for the Pacers to trade George in an exchange for a future of picks and maybe other players.
If Paul George had a conversation about this with the Pacers organization and these comments never went public, the Pacers probably could have secured the future of their franchise with picks because teams would give up a lot for George if they thought they might have a chance of also locking him up long term when his contract runs up.
This news also hurts the Paul George free agency sweepstakes, as he will not start a bidding war for potential signings with other teams, maybe the Lakers will sign him for a discount since he said he only wants to play for them. I doubt the Lakers would try to short change him too much though, because they wouldn’t want to upset him and drive him to sign with another team. George is currently making around $18 million per year in his deal with the Pacers, and since he’s greatly improved and solidified himself as a superstar in the NBA, he’ll get the money he wants.
I think the Pacers have known for awhile now that George had high interest in the Lakers because of the moves they made last off-season bringing in Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson. But with those moves inevitably leading to the Pacers being the 7th seed in a weak Eastern Conference and getting bounced in the 1st round, George probably just does not see a future of winning with the Indiana franchise.
With a player like Paul George who would gain interest from every NBA team, it sucks for the Pacers that it’s now common knowledge George will only play for the Lakers because they could’ve potentially gotten a few 1st round draft picks and proven players for him. But now their options should not be nearly that appealing unless they come across another franchise who makes a desperation move this off-season or before the trade deadline of the upcoming season.