Paul George is still a year away from being able to actually make his own decision in free agency. That isn’t stopping him from doing whatever he can (covertly, of course) to steer his own fate as quickly as possible.
Like all NBA superstars, George has his own camp to say things behind the scenes he would get roasted for saying publicly.
For example, an athlete can commit no graver sin than dare admit their intentions are not always driven by ringzzzzzz. There is no more serious charge in sports than accusing an athlete of not ‘wanting to win’.
George is currently trudging through mediocrity in Indiana with very few assets to help the team improve considerably around him anytime soon, so the expectation is for him to do whatever it takes to get to a situation that would allow him deeper playoff runs as soon as possible.
George wanting to play closer to where he grew up rather than play for a team closer to title contention seems to take it as a personal slight by some.
Ironically, when Kevin Durant did that very thing those are ready to crucify George for not doing, he was crucified for improving his situation too much. Sports analysis is weird. Crucifixion should’ve ended forever ago.
Anyway, here’s how USA Today’s Sam Amick reported some of what’s been going on in those back-channels. The entire article is very much worth your time.
Tempting though it might be to speed up this process, to offer the Pacers their No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft and other obligatory pieces in exchange for George rather than add a young dynamo like UCLA’s Lonzo Ball to their mix, the truth is that the Lakers can’t afford to give up those kinds of assets right now. Especially when the message has been so clearly sent throughout the NBA that George wants to head their way two summers from now.
That last sentence feels especially noteworthy, as it would go a long way to deter other teams from offering legitimate trade packages for George. So long as no other team is willing to give up anything for George, the asking price will continue to drop.
Eventually, Indiana won’t want to risk losing George for nothing outright next summer. The longer George’s camp keeps the rest of the NBA at bay, though, the better the outlook becomes for the Lakers.