The Cleveland Cavaliers may have taken a step closer to locking up Paul George if they can acquire him from the Indiana Pacers in a trade. George made his intentions to leave the Pacers and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 public knowledge, but now there may have been a drastic twist to the situation if the following rumor proves to be true.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during an appearance on SportsCenter, George may be willing to stay in Cleveland long-term if LeBron James agrees to stay with the team as well:
“He’s obviously indicated he doesn’t want to stay with the Pacers, which has put them in a bind,” Smith said of Paul George. “He can’t stay there; they’ve got to make a move this summer because they can’t open the season with him. So they’re looking to move him. According to numerous reports, he’s told the Los Angeles Lakers that he wants to be there. He intends and practically guaranteed them that he’s coming by summer 2018. But from what I heard as recently as a couple of days ago, is that he’s letting word leak to the Cleveland Cavaliers that if LeBron indeed elects to stay in Cleveland, then Paul George won’t depart Cleveland as long as LeBron is still there if they pull off a trade to acquire him.”
“Now it appears to be the Cavaliers or the Los Angeles Clippers. You hear stuff about the San Antonio Spurs and things of that nature, which he wouldn’t mind, but that would be a one-year rental. Whereas with the Cleveland Cavaliers it appears it would be more than that if LeBron James stayed. But his ideal landing spot would be the Los Angeles Lakers, despite the fact that they’re not contenders right now.”
If Smith’s statement about George being willing to stay if James does turn out to be true, it could be devastating for the Lakers. Los Angeles has been reluctant to part ways with the building blocks of their young core in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in a deal for George, but this may force the hands of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka if they’re actually intent on landing the superstar.
Of course, Smith has said many outlandish things in the past regarding superstar players changing teams or being interested in doing so. Smith famously claimed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook could end up in Los Angeles together and obviously, that didn’t nor will it likely ever happen.
Take Smith’s track record for this kind of rumor with a grain of salt. There’s no telling what will happen with George at this point. A trade seems inevitable because the Pacers brass has been put in that awkward situation in which it benefits them to move him as soon as possible, but where that will be is anyone’s guess at this point.