Paul George has reportedly told the Indiana Pacers he will enter the free agency market next summer with the intention of joining long-standing admirers, the Los Angeles Lakers, as per Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) June 18, 2017
Wojnarowski broke the news on Sunday that the All-Star forward will likely decline his player option for the 2018-19 season to become an unrestricted free agent, as he wishes to take his talents elsewhere, with L.A. the desired destination.
The Lakers and their fanbase have always been keen on the idea of the 27-year-old donning the purple and gold, and now it seems their prayers are finally being answered as their rebuild begins to edge closer to completion.
However, the Lakers would have to clear cap space in rapid fashion in order to acquire George’s services, as in the prime of his career, he is unlikely to want to take a pay cut unless joining a Championship-ready team, of which the Lakers are not. With not enough cap space to pull off such a free agency signing outright, Los Angeles would have to shed a lot of deadweight and big contracts.
Keep in mind that the Lakers do not have max money ($30.6) next summer to sign Paul George outright.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 18, 2017
As George failed to make any All-NBA team this season, Indiana lost the chance to offer him a five-year, $207 million designated player veteran exception, with the max now capped at just $177 million.
As per Wojnarowksi’s report, the Lakers wouldn’t have the financial means to match this deal, only being able to offer a four-year, $130 million contract, however as a Southern California native, George would likely welcome a return home.
With a trade unlikely due to the league’s knowledge of George’s intentions to join the Lakers, it seems the Pacers are set to lose their two-way star for nothing.
This news comes shortly after it was rumoured that if the Cleveland Cavaliers were not in a better situation by 2018, superstar LeBron James would consider leaving for an L.A team.
George was in stellar form this past season, as he averaged a career-high 23.7 points per contest on 46.1-percent shooting from the floor to go with 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 39.3-percent shooting from deep. George’s signing would mean a world of good for the Lakers, and will likely propel them to a level where they are once again ready to compete in the playoffs.