Considering he’s not even a member of the Lakers, we’ve written plenty about Paul George in these parts. I guess that what happens when there is, supposedly, a mutual affection between team and player to the point that the rumor mill continues to churn.
And churn it does.
Here’s a summary from all that’s happened this Thursday:
1. Paul George did not make any of the three All-NBA teams. What this means: George is not eligible, at least this summer, for the Super-Max extension written into the most recent Collective Bargaining agreement. That provision states that, among other things, if a player makes any of the All-NBA teams in two of the tree previous seasons before he signs an extension, he is eligible for a max contract at 35% of the salary cap. Because George only just completed his 7th season, this amount would be a full 5% more of the cap than he what he could sign for normally. This amounts to a massive difference in money over the life of a 5-year contract (roughly $75 million based on current cap projections). So, this is bad news for Paul George.
2. Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are “confident” they can sign George in free agency in the summer of 2018. Woj continues by implying that the Lakers may have even be told they should not trade for George because he would want them to have as good a roster as possible should he join them next summer. It’s hard to know whether this specific type of back-channel communication occurred (though, Woj reporting is normally well sourced), but George does have the same agent as Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. So, you can connect the dots there and come to your own conclusions.
(UPDATED) 3. Sam Amick is reporting in a just released column that money will not matter as much to George as an opportunity to win. Further, Amick says that George has the Lakers in mind:
But after making it all the way back from his horrific leg break in the summer of 2014, and threatening to unseat the great LeBron James in those back-to-back Heat-Pacers conference finals, George finds himself more focused on legacy than ever. And whether it’s realistic or not, the 27-year-old who grew up idolizing Bryant in Palmdale, Calif. clearly believes he can lift the Lakers out of the darkness. The question now, it seems, is whether the Lakers will have the necessary patience and prudence on their end to make the most of their situation.
George, a native of Southern California is in Los Angeles for the off-season. He’s said that he may have discussions with Kobe about working out and is already putting in some hours with draft prospects (and one Julius Randle). Fans will read into stuff like that, but LA is a hub of off-season training for many NBA guys, not just the ones who grew up there.
That said, the rumors will continue to fly until George is either traded from or re-signs with the Pacers. This is the nature of things — especially when there’s been so much smoke about him and the Lakers plus his name being put out there by Pacers’ management leading up to February’s trade deadline. For now, though, we just wait. Welcome to the rumor season.