Paul George has let the Indiana Pacers know that he will leave them in free agency next summer, so the team is looking to trade him so they can get something in return rather than lose him for nothing. While George has made it known he prefers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency in 2018, the Pacers will attempt to create a wider market for him by finding teams that are willing to trade for him without assurance that he will stay long-term.
For the Pacers, the best-case scenario at this point would be to find a number of teams that are willing to take George as a one-year rental. Most teams won’t be interested in giving up serious assets for a player that appears determined to join the Lakers next summer, but contending teams may think that they can change his mind over the next 12 months.
One such team could be the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have had early discussions with the Pacers, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
The Cavs are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland, a source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN. Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal.
That said, there are only two assets the Cavs possess that would likely grab the Pacers’ attention in a potential swap (operating under the assumption that LeBron James is untouchable): Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
As McMenamin notes, the problem with a trade with Cleveland is that they lack movable assets. While the Pacers would like to have Kyrie Irving and could be willing to build around Kevin Love, the Cavaliers don’t necessarily want to move those pieces.
The Pacers will run into this issue with all of the contending teams, with each hoping to add George to their core rather than trade major pieces in order to get him. The Lakers, meanwhile, appear to be content to wait.
They know that George wants to sign with them in 2018, so they appear to be determined to hold onto their major assets and just wait to sign him next summer. That could change if the Pacers lower their asking price, but for the time being, the Lakers have all the leverage and appear to be handling the situation accordingly.