The Los Angeles Lakers are patiently waiting for the right moment to focus on landing the superstar they so desire, and they may have to wait a bit longer if their hearts are set on Paul George.
The Indiana Pacers reportedly are not looking to trade George in the present, not opening discussions about shipping their star away just yet. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report dropped the information first, and Indiana’s stance was further elaborated on the most recent edition of ESPN’s Lowe Post Podcast.
Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne joined Zach Lowe to discuss a variety of things, eventually landing on the latest information they’ve heard about George and the Pacers.
Windhorst led in with a Cleveland Cavaliers angle, noting that he anticipates many will say the Cavaliers need to work to trade 29-years-old-before-next-season Kevin Love to Indiana in exchange for George. Forget the merit of the trade, though. It’s what he says immediately after that should be interesting to Lakers fans.
“People are going to say ‘well you have to trade Kevin Love for Paul George.’ The problem is, us I don’t think at least to my information that the Pacers are interested in trading Paul George. At least not right now,” Windhorst said.
Lowe didn’t hesitate to follow-up and add in what he’s heard, confirming Windhorst and Pincus’ reports and layering in additional context. It sounds like the Pacers are going to try and rebuild around George this summer in an attempt to keep him in the summer of 2018.
“I heard the same thing this week from someone who would know, and it sort of surprised me because I think we all assumed when Larry [Bird] stepped down and [Kevin Pritchard] stepped in, and the writing is on the wall for what’s going to happen there. The most recent thing I’ve heard is they’re going to try and regroup and get a couple better players to put around him and make a run at keeping him,” Lowe said.
“I’ve actually heard the same,” Shelburne added, giving the podcast a trifecta of confirmations.
What seems clear is the Pacers aren’t anywhere close to trading George, and the NBA Draft is less than three weeks away. That could certainly change between now and then if one of the top lottery teams puts in a call and gets serious about an offer. If Indiana’s plan is to try and add better players around George, though, it wouldn’t make sense to make a trade in the immediate before at least taking a shot in free agency.
The Pacers won’t have much cap space to work with with George ($19.5M), Thaddeus Young ($15M), Monta Ellis ($11.2M) and Al Jefferson ($9.8M) taking up most of their bank roll. They also have the impending unrestricted free agency of Jeff Teague to deal with, the final $8.8 million on his deal concluding on July 1.
Indiana might be holding out for now, but if summer doesn’t go their way and their future doesn’t look much brighter by the early months of next season, it might be time to change course. The Lakers, meanwhile, can sit back and draft the No. 2 pick while they wait and watch what the Pacers do.