Paul George reportedly told the Indiana Pacers on Sunday that he will not re-sign with them after next season when he can become an unrestricted free agent and that his preferred destination is a homecoming with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reports of George’s interest in becoming a member of the Lakers are certainly nothing new. There have been so many reports and rumors on the topic that it is almost impossible to refute at this point, but many believe that George can be swayed away from Los Angeles if he is traded to a contender this summer, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics.
As it turns out, George’s preference for the Lakers might be less of a preference and more of a fixation. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski joined The Chris Mannix Show and talked about George’s camp reportedly letting teams know that if they trade for him, it will strictly be for one season.
“Teams are trying to decide what is the appropriate cost for a player who they are being told pretty adamantly by Paul George’s camp will be a rental. No matter who you are, no matter who has checked in or who potentially will check in about him, they are going to be told that Paul George is going to play this season out and then he is going to go to the Lakers. That’s his plan.”
Wojnarowski also added that Cleveland has tremendous interest in getting a deal done, but are very limited in what they can offer that Indiana would want in their efforts to rebuild after George is gone. He also mentions they may be wary of making a deal because it comes with the major risk of shipping out Kevin Love and then potentially seeing George and LeBron James leave next summer as free agents.
“George has no desire to stay [in Cleveland]. I think he’d just prefer to stay in Indiana for the year or be traded to the Lakers,” said Wojnarowski.
George’s camp utilizing their leverage in this situation could greatly help the Lakers. If his camp scares off teams from giving up assets for a one-year rental, it could drive the asking price down for the Lakers to make a deal this summer for pennies on the dollar or they could simply try to remain patient and just add him next summer in free agency.
A lot can certainly change between now and Thursday’s draft or even free agency on July 1, let alone next summer. But the Lakers’ inevitable pursuit of George continues to look like it will be one that eventually brings him home and sees him finally don a purple and gold uniform.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @garykester.