The Indiana Pacers may have no chance of keeping Paul George long-term after they were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in embarrassing fashion. And if what one NBA writer says George has been telling his teammates is true, they never had a shot anyway.
George grew up in Los Angeles, and there have long been rumblings that he wants to play for the Lakers. In a feature story arguing that Magic Johnson should think twice before pursuing George, Sporting News contributor Mitch Lawrence dropped an interesting tidbit regarding George’s openness about wanting to play for his hometown team.
A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.
As Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk notes, the context of George’s comments — assuming he actually made them — would be important. Professional athletes grow up fans of certain teams like the rest of us, and some those allegiances don’t necessarily disappear simply because they become employees of other teams. It seems more likely that George would have been telling his teammates about his childhood aspirations rather than rubbing it in that he plans on leaving them.
Having said all that, we have already heard reports that George is set on playing for the Lakers when he can opt out of his contract after next season. Johnson also admitted on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” this week that the interest is mutual, and the newest Lakers executive he may have tampered in the process.
The critical comments George made about his teammates during the playoffs can’t be ignored, even if he later backed down from them. The 26-year-old may only get one opportunity to sign a huge contract with the Lakers, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t seize it.