Paul George reportedly had his agent tell the Indiana Pacers he plans to leave the team next summer and prefers the Los Angeles Lakers as a destination Sunday. While that move severely undercuts Indiana’s leverage to the point where the Lakers reportedly don’t plan to include any of their young players in a deal for George, it also doesn’t mean the Pacers have to trade George to Los Angeles.
It seems that’s exactly the mindset Pacers president of basketball operations and verified member of #TeamPetty Kevin Pritchard is going to take entering the process of George’s basically inevitable departure from Indiana.
Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports that “Pritchard has become more aggressive in pursuing trades for George,” but that he “has yet to show an inclination to engage the Lakers” in trade talks.
However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t talking to other teams about a deal for his team’s franchise player:
[Pritchard] has discussed deals with several teams – including Cleveland – in which the expectation of teams would be that George is a “one-year rental.” It is unclear how robust those offers to Indiana will ultimately be, given that teams believe he will sign with the Lakers next summer. So far, Indiana is asking for a substantial package of talent and draft picks for George, league sources said. Discussions could extend until Thursday’s NBA draft – or beyond.
Wojnarowski’s report and the leaks from the Lakers make it clear this is unlikely to be a quick process. The two sides have officially entered a game of chicken in which the Pacers are trying to get the Lakers to buy that they can get another team to trade for George, and the Lakers are trying to get the Pacers to believe that if they offer anything of value for a player they expect to get anyway they’re doing the Pacers a favor.
Which side blinks first will be one of the biggest stories of the summer, and potentially beyond.