Just one day after the blockbuster trade between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to send the No. 1 pick to Philly was reported to be agreed upon, the NBA world was once again shaken by big news coming out of the Eastern Conference. Let’s work through some of the details. 

What happened between Paul George and the Pacers?

According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Paul George has told the Indiana Pacers that he has no long-term plans with the franchise, and will test the free agency waters in the summer, with the Los Angeles Lakers being his preferred destination. 

What will happen between the two sides moving forward? 

The report has unsurprisingly kicked off some trade talks, as teams are hoping to poach George from Indiana before the Pacers lose him for nothing in 2018. One of those teams, is the Cleveland Cavaliers, per multiple reports.

In addition, Zach Lowe is reporting that the Pacers are going to try and move quickly on making a deal. 

What leverage do the Pacers have? 

Well, not much. George has indicated that he’s not going to re-sign with the Pacers next summer, meaning they will lose an All-Star forward for nothing unless they are able to swing a deal at some point before the trade deadline next season. On top of that, George seems set on going to the Lakers, so any trade would likely be a rental. With these factors in play, most teams will not be eager to give up too much to get a deal done. 

Do the Cavaliers have a legitimate shot at getting George?

According to Dave McMenamin, the Cavs are not concerned with George’s interest in Los Angeles. Via ESPN:

The Cavs are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland, a source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN. Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal.

With that out of the way, the question then becomes what would the Cavs give up to acquire a possible rental superstar? LeBron James is obviously off the table, and draft picks from Cleveland are essentially irrelevant, as they’ll be at the end of the first round for at least the next few years. Thus, the only other players that Indiana would really be interested in are Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson. Thompson alone won’t be enough to swing a trade to land George, even with the Pacers’ lack of leverage, any deal would have to include at least one of Irving and Love. 

Overall, the Cavs do have a legitimate shot, as they can offer a star player in return for George. However, they would have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to part ways with Irving or Love (or both, depending on what the Pacers ask for). Each player is under contract until at least 2019, and the Cavs would be getting a player who — despite their confidence in convincing him to stay — may very well leave next season to go to the Lakers. 

Where do the Lakers fit into all of this?

Los Angeles seems to be George’s first choice after his contract expires next season. It’s probably a safe assumption to make that Magic Johnson won’t want to give up many assets to get the All-Star forward — even more so than any other team on the market for George. 

As Wojnarowski notes, “the Lakers can create the necessary salary-cap space to sign George next summer and won’t be compelled to make a dramatic offer to Indiana now.”

They do have to weigh the possibility that another team could trade for George before next summer and convince him to stay, but it sure seems likely based on the reports that surfaced Sunday that George may be wearing purple and gold come the start of the 2018-19 season. 

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