Paul George’s status with the Indiana Pacers continues to evolve basically by the hour, it seems. The quotes from right after the deadline weren’t great, but hearing these about the process of his potentially being traded or eventually departing to wherever he goes shows how complicated this process can be, especially given how much money could potentially be at stake.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports added another nugget via his podcast Friday afternoon. He paints a picture in which the Los Angeles Lakers were basically told how to handle potential trade negotiations, though Woj did not specify from whom the Lakers got said advice.
This situation brings Kobe Bryant’s trade demands and how he reportedly did not accept a trade to Chicago so long as Luol Deng was coming back to the Lakers, as Bryant wanted join up with Deng in Chicago.
Now, according to Wojnarowski, someone (and again we don’t know who) told the Lakers to hold back on any trade negotiations. Here’s how he put it:
“The direction I was told the Lakers got here in the last couple days was: 'Hey don't gut your team to go get Paul George'. Magic Johnson did lob a call to Larry Bird. But if you're the Lakers and you don't have a tremendous amount of assets -- they have some young players that they hope will develop. They're going to sit back and wait to sign him as a free agent. They'll have cap space in 2018, because if they were to try to trade for him, well, they were going to have to give up the core of their team and then Paul George, he's going to have no one to play with.”
Again, we have no way of knowing from whom this advice was given, so here are a few scenarios:
If it is from George’s camp, they’re telling the Lakers he is looking to come in 2018 via free agency and as such, would like help (or assets the Lakers could use to get him some) when he gets here.
It could also be marching orders passed down from Magic, himself. He has sounded committed to the long-term rebuild since his arrival and as such, wants to see this through.
Lastly, this could be general advice as seen internally by the Pacers as means not to make a rush to a hasty decision.
This is highly interesting information and is absolutely something to keep an eye on, especially if this is that first scenario. If so, this is the most definitive evidence we’ve seen that George has legitimate interest in coming to Los Angeles and is not just using the Lakers for leverage.