Natural speculation has followed, something George is used to from his former days with the Indiana Pacers and from previous reports about him potentially ending up with the Los Angeles Lakers once he hits free agency in 2018. “I’ve been so used to that type of chatter, being in Indiana, the whole L.A. [thing], I’ve been used to that,” he said Tuesday. “So, it doesn’t get to me. At the end of the day, it’s my decision, and I’ve always been happy where I’m at and what decision I make. So, I’m happy. Put it like that. I’m happy.”
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Undisputed: “I was at the Lakers game last night, and the agents for Paul George and LeBron were there… just an observation.” — @Chris_Broussard
“We’ll see,” he continued, addressing the idea of joining the Lakers next season. “I’m a Thunder, and my job is to give them the best I have this year and see what happens after that.”
Ryan Ward: Paul George will face the Lakers for the first time in an OKC uni on Jan. 3 (Staples). Then Jan. 17 & Feb. 4 in OKC. Feb. 8 back in LA.
Woj was on ESPN this week talking about how the Lakers new regime – Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka – has basically been in full Paul George and LeBron James mode from the day they took over.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Their job is to make the Lakers a destination place again for the biggest free agents in the game. Lebron is going to be the biggest free agent in the game next year. The Lakers are going to be in full Paul George mode from now until July 1 next year … for Lebron, it’s started, and it started from the day they took over.
Paul George: FWIW: I’ve interviewed PG 100s of times & he’s never said he was a Lakers fan. Grew up a Clippers fan; that’s where he wanted to be drafted
Paul George: “For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I’ve yet to do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”
George will get four eyefuls this season of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and the young Lakers. Superficial measurements will matter far less than max slots and won-loss records. “It’s too early for L.A.,” he says. “It would have to be a situation where the ball gets rolling and guys are hopping on. This guy commits, that guy commits. ‘Oh s—, now there’s a team forming.’ It has to be like that.” But the same is true for virtually every locale outside of Oakland. “I’m in OKC, so hopefully me and Russ do a good enough job and make it to the conference finals and love the situation, why not recruit someone to come build it with us? I’m open in this whole process.”
Miller said George has a “love affair” with the L.A. life, but the man who was No. 58 on Forbes’ list of world’s highest paid athletes for 2017 still voluntarily finds his way to anti-Hollywood. George is the ringleader of the pickup games, which include the 5-foot-7 Miller. “It’s on him,” Miller said about George pulling together the games. “He’ll pass on the word from there.” “Our gym is always going to kind of be a special place for kids in our program they enjoy coming back and reliving those memories,” said Tom Hegre, George’s high school coach. “Where you grow up is where you have memories.”
“If they can put something together in Oklahoma where they can win, will that mean L.A.’s completely out of play in free agency? No. L.A.’s always in play,” Granger said. “But it’ll be something he’ll have to consider if the Thunder can compete for a championship next year.”
According to people not authorized to speak publicly, George, a Palmdale native, is still telling friends that he intends to be a Laker in 2018. Because of that, he knows the Lakers have little incentive to trade for him now.
Although George’s feelings could change, especially if he is traded to a team he likes, the Lakers aren’t willing to part with too much to trade for him. Second-year forward Brandon Ingram, a favorite of the Lakers’ coaching staff, has caught Indiana’s eye, but is off limits. Without the help of a third team, the Lakers weren’t willing to part with the No. 2 overall pick before the draft — the pick they used to take former UCLA star Lonzo Ball.
To be smart in free agency, the Lakers also have set their eyes on two realities. The Lakers are not expecting to acquire George from the Indiana Pacers amid their insistence on keeping Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. With their hopes set on George becoming available next summer, the Lakers want to pursue players who fit specific criteria that would accelerate the young roster’s development.
Mark Murphy: Source added that Pritchard’s last demand was for next year’s Nets and Lakers picks, plus starting player(s).
Nick DePaula: As for the recent Paul George / Lakers rumors, Klay Thompson shot that down & told me he hasn’t spoken to PG at all lately. Klay Thompson says his last conversation with Paul George was FIFA video game trash talk texts last summer during the Rio Olympics.
Sam Amick: Paul George gray area: He’s still telling folks he wants to sign w/ Lakers…while recruiting players to other spots usatoday.com/story/sports/n…
Alex Kennedy: Former Warriors Kelenna Azubuike (who’s close w/ many players) said Paul George is recruiting Klay Thompson to Lakers. Klay is a FA in 2019.
George met with Pacers owner Herb Simon just before the February trade deadline, delivering a direct message that should have sparked a full-force effort to get him out of town: While he badly wanted to contend for a title with the Pacers, George told Simon at the time, he was likely headed for Laker Land if that prospect didn’t look attainable by the time his contract came to an end.
The Celtics have a growing confidence they could sign George to a contract extension, and keep him from leaving to his predetermined free-agent destination of the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told The Vertical. Boston’s belief that it can make George more than a one-year rental is fueling the franchise’s willingness to part with a significant package of assets, league sources said.
Ryan Rueda: @stevekylerNBA is the Lakers still in talks with Indy for a Paul George trade? Steve Kyler: Last I heard talks with Lakers died off two days before the draft. Pacers not eager to help Lakers land PG unless it favors them.
Mark Medina: Nonetheless, Pacers will continue to talk to teams. I’m told it’s “highly likely” Paul George gets traded before the draft.
Adrian Wojnarowski: For the Lakers, this is longer-term play to clear space for Paul George and LeBron James pursuit. Lonzo Ball on way at No.2.
Mike Bresnahan: Following up @Marc Stein + @Ramona Shelburne report, LAL would rather acquire Paul George now than FA ’18, BUT wary of giving up too much.
The Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers are engaged in Paul George trade discussions as Thursday’s NBA draft draws near, according to league sources. But sources told ESPN on Tuesday that it remains unclear whether the sides can agree to trade terms before the draft, given Indiana’s desire to acquire the Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick and L.A.’s well-chronicled reluctance to surrender it.
One team source went as far Tuesday as saying there’s “zero chance” they’d surrender Thursday night’s No. 2 pick or Ingram Yet sources say the fact that Indiana has made George available via trade league-wide — after hearing directly from George’s agent Aaron Mintz over the weekend that the player has no desire to commit his long-term future to the Pacers — has led to talks that could potentially result in the Lakers’ acquiring George this offseason.
Sam Amick: On Lakers-Pacers front: Paul George & D’Angelo Russell have same agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA, & he would like them to play together. Tricky…
Sam Amick: Ah yes, that too. Mintz also has Lakers’ Julius Randle. twitter.com/d_rosen13/stat…
Marc Stein: League sources tell @RamonaShelburne and me: The Pacers and Lakers have engaged on Paul George trade talks in advance of Thursday’s draft.
George intends to leave the Pacers as a free agent after next season with the expressed preference of joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. In conjunction with previous comments by Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations, the news caused a large segment of those Pacers fans to wonder about tampering. Did the Lakers entice George to leave the Pacers? What about Johnson’s public comments about George and the Lakers? Could the Lakers be fined or penalized by the NBA? That’s unlikely to happen, according to multiple league sources.
The Indiana Pacers “aren’t looking to take care of Paul George with this,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski. “The Lakers aren’t giving them Brandon Ingram,” added Wojnarowski. “They aren’t giving them the No. 2 pick.” The Lakers could offer a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and possibly the 28th overall pick in the draft for George.
Kevin O’Connor: Two NBA sources expect Lakers to parachute into Paul George talks if the Cavs are closing in on a deal. Unclear if #2 would be on the table.
Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has been making obligatory calls around the league, and the Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers have chatted about George, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt.
Ramona Shelburne: For those asking about PG, the Lakers have shown no inclination yet of surrendering anything for a player they can get in free agency.
You should buy stock in George heading to L.A. The vibe I’ve gotten from talking to NBA executives and agents over the past few weeks is that teams aren’t willing to sell the farm for George because of the possibility that he’ll sign with the Lakers is so strong. George is better than both Irving and Love — he’s a rare two-way superstar.
One NBA executive told Bleacher Report that the current task for the Lakers in their pursuit of George is to acquire another player—the type of player who would make defecting more desirable for George. Perhaps the answer is in the draft and player development, but the Lakers may need to accelerate the process by bringing in additional help through free agency and trades. And time is of the essence.
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.
Why? Because this isn’t just about the money. It’s about winning. And if he can’t win at the highest level in Indiana, where the four-time All-Star has been since the Pacers drafted him 10th overall back in 2010, then it’s off to Laker Land he’ll go – either via trade or in free agency next summer.
George had his own sit-down with Kimmel Monday night, and he did his best to not get himself in trouble when asked if that moment would have any affect on him moving forward. “No man. I love Magic, (he’s a) great dude,” George said, before laughing when Kimmel responded by saying that it was good he thought that because he was going to be working for him with the Lakers. “I know I’m always going to get those L.A. ties, man. I’m an L.A. kid,” George said, before joking that former Lakers star Kobe Bryant is a bigger deal in his family household than he even is.
Still, he wasn’t quite willing to demand a trade to the Lakers on air, even if he didn’t exactly shut-down speculation that he’d rather be a Laker than a Pacer when Kimmel mentioned that all the speculation was a “worst-case scenario” for the Pacers. “It is. I love Indiana, man, it’s really a hard,” George said, trailing off.
“Paul George is not staying in Indiana,” Dudley, 31, said positively. “What you do now is you can force a team for a trade. He can get to L.A. He can get to the Lakers or Clippers. He’s going to make them trade [him] in February [by the trade deadline] and then he’ll sign the five-year max there.
Whether in free agency two summers from now or via trade before then, the four-time All-Star is still hell-bent on joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Maybe now more than ever.
Bird, according to sources, was unwilling to trade George before the NBA’s trade deadline in February. With Bird no longer making the Pacers’ top basketball decisions, a trade to ensure the Pacers receive compensation for George could become more of a possibility this summer. If George doesn’t make one of the All-NBA teams, he could re-sign with the Pacers for approximately $180 million over five years. In either case, he can sign with another team for four years and about $130 million.
Lakers president Magic Johnson jokingly made his desire to have George in a purple and gold uniform known publicly during an interview last week with late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel, laughing and winking about how he was well-versed on tampering and couldn’t recruit a player under contract with another team. And one of the league’s worst-kept secrets is that the Lakers have a strong appeal for George given their proximity to his hometown of Palmdale, Calif., and his affinity for Kobe Bryant, even though George actually grew up a fan of the Clippers.
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.
So it’s no surprise that Johnson will probably pursue George and set out to build a title team around him, according to multiple sources who have known Johnson over the years.
Magic said: “I had to go to school. I had to go to CBA school, salary cap school and tampering school (laughs). You can’t tamper with somebody else’s player.” Jimmy followed that up by questioning what Magic would do if he saw Paul George while on vacation. Here’s Magic’s answer: “No, we gonna say hi because we know each other, you just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’ even though I’ll be wink winking like (winks a bunch of times) you know what that means right?”
Johnson beat Bird to it. The phone call lasted less than five minutes, consisted mostly of small talk and might have touched only briefly on the fate of Indiana star Paul George. “I wasn’t motivated to move Paul George at the deadline,” Bird said. “I can’t remember if it was even brought up or not. I don’t think it was. It’s all fake news anyway. You know that. Somebody’s gonna start it and [it] just was a snowball effect. [The phone call] was not about Paul George.”
Sam Amick on Paul George and the Lakers: I guarantee you he feels a lot better now because Magic is there. The problem they had before, these guys like Russell Westbrook and Paul George who grew up Lakers fans, they would see the purple and gold logo and the Staples Center, then they would see Jim Buss in an arena or on a picture on the Internet and they would just kind of go ‘Oh boy.’ He just doesn’t have a resume.
“Here’s the issue with Paul George: he’s made it clear that if he’s going to leave Indiana, he’s going home to L.A.,” said Wojnarowski. “He grew up in southern California. Big Kobe Bryant fan. His dad is a big Magic Johnson fan. Obviously Magic is running the organization now. “The direction that I was told that the Lakers got in the last couple of days was ‘hey, don’t gut your team to go get Paul George.’
“Magic Johnson did lob a call to Larry Bird, but if you’re the Lakers and you don’t have a tremendous amount of assets, they have some young players they hope will develop. They’re going to sit back and wait to sign him as a free agent. They’re going to have cap space in 2018. “If they were to try to trade for him, they would have to give up the core of their team and Paul George is going to have no one to play with there. “I think this is how the Pacers are looking at this. All things being equal, they know that Paul George would rather be in L.A., but they are not equal.”
The deadline expired with Paul George staying put with the Indiana Pacers and the Lakers making a minor move elsewhere. The Lakers did inquire about George, but talks did not go beyond the preliminary stages.
Sam Amick: I repeat: Paul George – barring a title chance in Indy – is hell-bent on heading for Laker Land. This message has been sent throughout NBA.
Chris Haynes: Teams mulling Paul George trade apprehensive knowing he wants to win w/Pacers, Plan B is Lakers. He won’t commit longterm outside those two.
Although the Lakers have entertained trade discussions with the Indiana Pacers for small forward Paul George, league sources familiar with the situation said it’s more likely the Lakers will wait to pursue him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2018 offseason. Then, the Lakers would not have to surrender any of their young assets.
The Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams to have inquired about the availability of Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George in recent days, according to league sources.
While the conversation didn’t go beyond an initial expression of interest — which is common in the NBA in advance of the trade deadline — it’s notable simply for the names involved: New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Pacers president Larry Bird, lifelong rivals and close friends, were on the phone together.
Sources confirmed to ESPN in the wake of that meeting with Simon that Indiana has since invited teams like the Lakers and Boston Celtics to make pitches for George this week in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Jake Fischer: As detailed yesterday, several sources suggested Lakers didn’t offer Ingram-for-Boogie to chase Paul George instead http://on.si.com/2lGKStV
Sam Amico: Sources: Magic plans to call Larry about Paul George. Michael not yet involved. Basketball’s holy trinity marches on at NBA trade deadline.
For teams considering a trade for George, here’s the risk: As a free agent in the summer of 2018, he has considered re-signing with Indiana or joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, sources tell The Vertical.
The Lakers called about Boogie, but ultimately valued Brandon Ingram too much to reel in the Kings center. Several league sources also suggested the Lakers aren’t offering Ingram as they chase other superstars (George and Butler) too.
In two years, two sons of Southern California – Indiana’s Paul George and Oklahoma City’s Westbrook – can become free agents and consider coming home. In their recent state of disrepair, the Lakers have been fully unappealing to superstar free agents. Kevin Durant wouldn’t take a meeting with them. The Lakers called the reps of Memphis’ Mike Conley on July 1, only to be told they wouldn’t be seriously considered. Miami center Hassan Whiteside passed, too.
Bill Simmons: Also hearing that the Lakers want to make a BIG run at Paul George with their top-3 pick plus other stuff. (Not that they’d get him…)
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November 23, 2017 | 7:05 pm EST Update
Joel Embiid is arguably one of the best players in the NBA. The 76ers center is one of five players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Yet, he’ll tell you that he’s more than a double-double machine. “Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said following Wednesday night’s 101-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. His comment came in response to being asked how good can he become, defensively. I’m still getting better,” Embiid added. “My blocks are a little down [compared to last season] I’m a better rebounder this year.”
A growing question inside the Trail Blazers’ early season has been the noticeable drop off in production from Maurice Harkless. The Blazers’ starting small forward is not scoring. He’s not rebounding. He’s not producing much of anything these days “I just feel like I’m just out there to be out there … I don’t know,’’ Harkless said Wednesday. “I’m just out there, and that’s frustrating,’’ Harkless said. “I’m just out there playing defense, which is cool … running back and forth. Out there running track.’’
Harkless, for his part, says he wants to contribute more, but is not sure how he can in this offense. “We gotta figure out ways … not only me, but ways to get other people going,’’ Harkless said. “Every game it’s the same thing … we play through three people.’’ Harkless was referring to guards Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic, who have combined to take 57 percent of the team’s shots this season. “Everybody else is just …. It’s hard to get into a rhythm,’’ Harkless said. “It’s that simple.’’
Hornets PR: Injury Status: @hornets Nic Batum (ulnar nerve contusion) traveled w/ team to CLE & is listed as questionable for Friday vs Cavs. #BuzzCity