Paul George informed the Pacers he won’t return to the team next season when his free agency begins, and that his preferred destination is the Lakers. The problem for Indiana now is twofold: 1) Why would Los Angeles part with any assets to get him now when they can just sign him in a year? and 2) Why would anyone else want to trade that much for him when it’s pretty clear he’d be a rental?
Woj reports that there have been “talks” between the Cavs and Pacers, but they may not go far:
In the past 24 hours, Pritchard has become more aggressive in pursuing trades for George, league sources told The Vertical. Pritchard has yet to show an inclination to engage the Lakers, but has discussed deals with several teams – including Cleveland – in which the expectation of teams would be that George is a “one-year rental.” The Cavaliers are devoid of the kind of young players and future picks that Indiana might want in return for George, and George has never mentioned the Cavaliers as an intriguing destination.
Earlier, Chris Broussard had this idea:
Based on Woj’s reporting, it’s unclear whether Love would be the most worthwhile option that the Pacers could get in return — maybe another team makes a more compelling offer for what they know would be a rental? — but this would make a lot of sense for the Cavs.
Like Indiana with George, the Cavs are aware that losing LeBron James in a year is of increasing probability. George is an upgrade from Love in the short-term arms race with the Warriors, and next year when George and LeBron both left they’d be able to have a fresh rebuild.
If Cleveland stays the course with their current core, and LeBron leaves, a team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love is good enough to make the playoffs in the East but not good enough to advance more than a round or two.
Whatever happens, the lead-up to the Draft should be a lot of fun to watch where the chips fall.