As the end of the 2016-17 NBA season draws near for the Los Angeles Lakers, the rumors surrounding Paul George’s future with the Indiana Pacers and his potential return to Los Angeles have begun to heat up once again.
Prior to the NBA trade deadline last month, rumors surfaced of George’s interest to sign with the Lakers once he’s eligible to become a free agent in the summer of 2018. George’s reported interest in joining the Lakers in free agency was reiterated once again on Tuesday.
Zach Lowe of ESPN said the following about George’s future and how the possibility of him playing in purple and gold is indeed real:
The Lakers? They might be the one team confident enough to wait for George’s free agency. George’s interest in L.A. is real, and widely known. But nothing is certain until you get that signature, and every day between now and that July 2018 day brings the risk of some unknown variable messing up your plans.
Obviously, anything can happen between now and the summer of 2018. The Pacers could decide to trade George to the Lakers or elsewhere before that time. George could even have a change of heart if Larry Bird and company make moves that convince the star forward to stay in Indiana long-term.
There’s no shortage of suitors for George’s services with Lowe reporting there were plenty of teams expressing interest in acquiring the perennial All-Star before the NBA trade deadline:
“The Pacers engaged at least the Celtics, Sixers, Hawks and Nuggets in trade talks for George at the deadline, though they never appeared serious about moving him, per league sources.”
Indiana is currently in the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and two games above .500. If the NBA playoffs started today, the Pacers would go head-to-head against John Wall’s Washington Wizards right out of the gate, and would likely be headed for a first-round exit.
Losing in the first round against the Wizards or another team in the East could dictate George’s mindset in the offseason. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that George asks for a trade or trade talks spark up in the summer which forces the hand of Bird and the rest of the Pacers brass.
Needless to say, anything can happen with this situation in Indiana. George’s future is very much up in the air with the Lakers either playing a significant role or being the team that forces Bird to make a substantial upgrade to the Pacers roster.