The biggest name that has been rumored as possibly being moved during this NBA trade deadline has been Indiana Pacers star Paul George. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have been rumored landing spots.
One worry for teams in regards to George is that he can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018 and according to Sam Amick of USA Today, George is ‘hell-bent’ on joining the Lakers in free agency unless he can compete for a title in Indiana:
I repeat: Paul George – barring a title chance in Indy – is hell-bent on heading for Laker Land. This message has been sent throughout NBA.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 23, 2017
The question now is whether or not the Pacers can build a contender around George. Pacers president Larry Bird has been said to ben engaging in other deals in hopes of surrounding George with more talent. If he can’t do so however, he may be better off getting something for his All-Star forward.
The Lakers seem unlikely to make an actual move for George now, especially if it is believed that he could join the team in free agency after next season. Of course, plenty can change by the time that comes and there have been plenty of other players who were said to be eyeing the Lakers in future free agency and never made it there.
Nonetheless, the George storyline will be one everyone is following over the next couple of years. Where the Lakers land in the lottery could also play a role in this saga as the Pacers could look to get the Lakers’ top-3 pick (if they were to keep it), in a deal for George in the offseason if they felt he was going to leave eventually.