Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported talks between the Lakers and Pacers died down two days before the 2017 NBA draft. The Pacers are reportedly “not eager” to fulfill George’s wish to be sent to Los Angeles unless it “favors them.”
The Pacers’ president of basketball operations, Kevin Pritchard, acknowledged last week that George informed the team he plans on leaving when he reaches free agency in 2018.
“It couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Pritchard told reporters. “If we would have known this a few months ago, I think we could have been more prepared. Becoming public was a big issue. We want our players to want to be here; that’s important. It really is. When Paul said he didn’t, that’s a gut punch.”
George, a Southern California native, informed the Pacers he prefers to play for the Lakers, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The potential of George leaving for Los Angeles has been one of basketball’s worst-kept rumors in recent years, and this has only added fuel to the fire.
The Lakers and Pacers could wind up playing a game of chicken all summer. The Lakers’ biggest potential rival for George’s services is, fittingly, the Boston Celtics, who have an asset war chest big enough to comfortably trade for a star player. They need help on the wing and might be able to topple the Cleveland Cavaliers with the right mix of additions.
Boston general manager Danny Ainge has held on to his assets with a tight fist; if the Celts wanted to make a trade, they already could have. It’s possible Ainge is waiting out the free-agency situation, particularly Gordon Hayward, before making a decision.
The Lakers, in a best-case scenario, would wait the situation out a year and then have George along with all their young players to make a play for another star.
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