Paul George is in for a bumpy road of a season next year in Indiana. George has made it clear he plans to leave for the bright lights of Los Angeles after the 2017-2018 season.
The Indiana Pacers are in unfamiliar territory.
They find themselves about to watch their superstar small forward leave in free agency after next season. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, George told the Indiana Pacers he has intentions to play for the Los Angeles Lakers beginning the 2018 NBA season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are setting themselves up for one wild summer in 2018. Rumors of LeBron James heading west surfaced earlier last week.
The Cleveland Cavaliers may have the luxury of waiting another year before deciding how to deal with James’ possible departure. The Indiana Pacers do not have the same fortune. They need to act accordingly and swiftly.
The Pacers have a blueprint on how to deal with this type of situation. Look back to 2012 and examine how the Orlando Magic dealt, then, superstar center Dwight Howard. In Trading Disgruntled Superstars For Dummies, former Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan decided a team would be better suited with a litter of young players and future draft picks than watch their star player leave without compensation.
The Pacers would do wise to accept the inevitable. They still have a few options on the table they should explore.
Option 1: Explore a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Story updated with Pacers beginning trade talks for 'rentals' on Paul George, including contact with …. Cleveland. https://t.co/Ct6819EtyG
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 18, 2017
If any team has a chance to convince Paul George to stay past his one year rental duration, it would be the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James and his litter of stars could convince George the Cavaliers are capable of dethroning the reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.
Option two: Send him to the Los Angeles Lakers a year early
The Magic selected option two. The Pacers should do so as well. As of now, the Pacers have not engaged the Lakers for a possible trade but at some point it needs to happen. While Lakers team president Magic Johnson would be reluctant to trade away current and future assets for a player he could sign outright a year later, Johnson would at least hear the pitch as he wants to get the Lakers back to NBA championship relevancy as soon as possible.
Option three: Keep George for the upcoming season
The Pacers last option would be to play out the year and allow George to simply leave without compensation–intentionally. In the short-term that would cripple the franchise but over a five-year span, the Pacers could lose enough games to find themselves with few top five draft picks in successive years. The team could lay out a true rebuilding plan.
By making this move, the Pacers control their future without sacrificing any assets, including potential cap space. They lose out on recouping any assets but they minimize taking back bad players or contracts.
The likely scenario will include the Pacers trading Paul George to the highest bidding team. As of now, the favorites are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Houston Rockets. In the time being before a trade is made, George would do well to avoid alienating himself from the Pacer’s fan base. His best option is to keep quiet until a deal is made.
In a turn of events, the Portland Trailblazers enter the Paul George sweepstakes and acquire him with a trade of two 2017 1st round picks and a young player.