Pacers reportedly hope to trade Paul George
George has two years left on his current five-year deal with the Pacers, but has the ability to opt out of that contract after one more year. Since George has told the Pacers he intends to opt out and join the Lakers, working out an attractive trade may be difficult.
For trading their biggest star, the Pacers will understandably want a substantial return in the form of young, talented prospects or in draft picks. The Lakers, where George wants to be, shouldn’t want to give much up if they believe George will be theirs after one year anyway. Other teams besides the Lakers may not be inclined to part with significant prospects or picks if they believe George is simply a one-year rental player and then L.A. bound in the offseason.
The exception would be if a team firmly believes it is only “a Paul George” away from legitimately competing for the NBA title. Such a team would have 1) a reason to accept a one-year rental player (that reason being winning a championship) and 2) a reason to believe George may change his mind (if winning is more important to him than going to the Lakers).
Judging only by the 2017 NBA Playoffs, not too many teams are even remotely close to competing for a title. The Cavaliers and Warriors blew through their opposition this postseason, losing just one game (Cleveland to the Celtics) before making the finals. Having made it that far, the runner-up Cavs may logically be the most likely team able to talk themselves into “renting” George for one year.