Report: Paul George told Pacers he intends to leave in 2018
At the very least, Paul George is being up front with his intentions.
George informed the Indiana Pacers that he plans to become a free agent in 2018 and will leave the franchise - most likely for the Los Angeles Lakers - sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
Wojnarowski notes that the Pacers' inability to maintain a championship roster has led George to believe that his best chance at a title is with the Lakers. Indiana were bounced in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and missed out entirely in 2014-15.
George's intention is to play out the 2017-18 season with the Pacers, but he did tell the only professional club he's ever known that he would leave so there are no misunderstandings. This way, the Pacers can plan their future accordingly.
The Pacers, now under the management of general manager Kevin Pritchard following the resignation of Larry Bird, could look to work out a deal with the Lakers to recoup assets on George. However, the Lakers have ample cap room to sign George outright next summer, so there isn't much pressure to surrender assets.
Had George made any of the All-NBA teams, the Pacers might not be in this spot. They could have offered him the Designated Player Veteran Exception worth $207 million over five years had George qualified, but they can now only tender a less competitive offer of $177 million.
The 27-year-old swingman had said earlier this week that he was a Pacer, and insisted that his team wasn't far off from beating the Cleveland Cavaliers if they grabbed a few more pieces. But rumors have linked George to his hometown Lakers for years, so it's not as if George had this sudden change of heart.
George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists last season and ranks as one of the best two-way players in the league.
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