The Indiana Pacers apparently have been put on notice by franchise star Paul George, who told the team he plans to leave next summer and hopes to join the Los Angeles Lakers, The Vertical reported Sunday.
According to the report, George’s agent informed Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard of his client’s intentions. George, who can opt out of his contract next summer, could sign a four-year max contract for as much as $130 million with the Lakers before the 2018-19 season. Pritchard reportedly is already engaged in trade conversations, but those discussions have not included the Lakers.
George reportedly plans to play next season with the Pacers but wanted to inform the only franchise he’s played for of his intentions to give the team a chance to plan for its future. A four-time All-Star, the 27-year-old Southern California native is considered one of the game’s best two-way players and would be the cornerstone of the Lakers’ plans to rebuild.
But if George does leave the Pacers, it will be a costly financial decision. Indiana can offer him a five-year, $177 million extension as opposed to the four-year deal the Lakers are permitted to offer, but off-court endorsements could offset much of that difference.
George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season, helping the Pacers reach the playoffs, where they were swept by the Cavs in the first round.