All-Star small forward Paul George has informed the Indiana Pacers that he won't re-sign with the team following next season, and as such, the Pacers are starting to take trade offers for him. George has said that he would prefer to sign with the Lakers as a free agent in 2018, and several teams around the league view him as a "one-year rental" that can help them make a push for a championship next year. Some teams also think they can convince George to change his mind and sign with them long-term instead of LA.
Indiana is reportedly looking for two first-round picks and/or young players in any deal. Who is most likely to trade for him? Here are the five teams that could pull off the blockbuster deal.
5) Houston Rockets
Houston acquiring George seems unlikely, but they have the assets to make this move and want to improve as a contender in the Western Conference. The Rockets don't have any picks in this year's draft, but have all of their picks moving forward and plenty of talented young players (like Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell) who they could be willing to part with. The only question is if they think the addition of George would be enough to put them on par with the Warriors - and if they'd be willing to part with assets for that "one-year rental."
4) Boston Celtics
The Celtics tried to acquire George at the trade deadline this past season, and have interest in revisiting talks. They're one of the teams that hold some hope or belief that they can convince George to re-sign after the season if all goes well. We know about the mass amount of draft picks - quality draft picks - that Boston can offer. Are they willing to use them for a gamble like this?
3) Los Angeles Clippers
Doc Rivers is on record saying the Clippers don't want to blow their core up and that they still view themselves as title contenders. For a team that's so desperate to win now, they may be willing to offer a more luxurious package to Indiana than other teams. Plus, they have the Los Angeles factor in their favor. While George prefers the Lakers, he's a Southern California native who wants to return home. If he has success in 2017-18 with the Clippers, they're hoping that being in LA will be enough for him.
2) Los Angeles Lakers
Here's where things get tricky - do the Lakers wait until the offseason and hope that George hasn't changed his mind about where he wants to go as a free agent? Or do they put all questions to bed about his future by trading for him? It has been reported that a deal would be done if the Lakers included the No. 2 pick in a deal for George, but they are obviously hesitant to do so. Would the Pacers be willing to accept a package of D'Angelo Russell and LA's 2019 first-round pick?
1) Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is the biggest threat to get George. They have the desire to do so and have already talked to the Pacers about a possible deal. The Cavs would prefer to make this deal while keeping Kevin Love, but that may not be possible - which they may be fine with. The bottom line is that the Cavs really want to get this deal done in order to keep pace with the Warriors and may do so by any means necessary. And, they think George will likely re-sign with them as they're competing for championships.