Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George has let it be known that he plans to leave the Pacers next summer when he becomes a free agent with the intention of joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
Instead of losing him for nothing in 2018, Pacers team president Kevin Pritchard has been shopping him in the trade market throughout this offseason to see what they can get for him.
Among the teams that have shown interest are the Lakers, as they may not want to risk waiting a year to land him in free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Washington Wizards.
The Cavaliers have been the most aggressive so far in their pursuit of George, as pairing him with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving gives them a chance to compete with the Golden State Warriors.
But with George expressing interest in signing with the Lakers in free agency, teams may be a bit skeptical about trading for him if it is just a one-year rental.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, if George does get traded to the Cavaliers, re-signing with them is an idea he would be open to if James does the same:
Hell-bent as he is on signing with the Lakers, George – according to a person with knowledge of his situation – is also the kind of prudent professional who won’t close a window of opportunity prematurely. So if the Cavs can convince Pritchard to either take on four-time All-Star forward Kevin Love or send him to a third team in exchange for more suitable assets, then George will play his heart out alongside LeBron James and remain open to the idea of re-signing next summer if James were also to return (or, perhaps, George could leave for Los Angeles with James at his side).
George going to Cleveland and winning or competing for a championship would be the biggest threat to the Lakers landing the four-time All-Star.
But by trading D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets, the Lakers cleared up the cap space to possibly sign both George and James next summer in free agency.