Rumors began to swirl surrounding the immediate future of superstar Paul George of the Indiana Pacers heading toward the NBA trade deadline last month. Reports surfaced of George being unhappy with the current situation in Indiana, and if things didn’t change, he’d eventually end up with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018.
With talk of George being intent on leaving the Pacers for the Lakers in 2018 if the team was not contending by then, trading the forward seemed to be a potential scenario before the deadline on Feb. 23.
Magic Johnson, new Lakers president of basketball operations and close friend of Indiana President Larry Bird’s, spoke to his former on-court rival on the phone before the trade deadline sparking speculation about a deal between the Lakers and Pacers involving George. However, Bird claims he wasn’t thinking about moving George nor was the phone call with Magic about a potential trade, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“I wasn’t motivated to move Paul George at the deadline,” Bird said. “I can’t remember if it was even brought up or not. I don’t think it was. It’s all fake news anyway. You know that. Somebody’s gonna start it and [it] just was a snowball effect. [The phone call] was not about Paul George.”
Although no deal to send George to Los Angeles was discussed during their short conversation, Magic and Bird may very well begin trade talks for the superstar in the coming months. The Pacers are on pace for an early playoff exit, and it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility a blockbuster trade is on the horizon.
Even if George doesn’t approach Bird and company with a desire to be traded this summer, the Pacers brass could seriously consider a move if they feel as if they’ll lose him in free agency in July of 2018 anyway. The Lakers along with the Boston Celtics will likely be two teams Bird will reach out to gauge interest and potential trade packages.
In the meantime, George remains the face of the franchise in Indiana. The perennial All-Star will continue to hold out hope that Bird can surround him with the talent needed to bring the Pacers their first NBA title.