George is also strongly considering the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Thunder and Lakers appear to have separated as a two-horse race.
More Rumors in this Storyline
“I want to be a champion,” George told Wade as the two sipped wine in Los Angeles. “In a way, it’s like, I want to come here, I want to play for the home team and put a Laker jersey on. That’s always gonna be something that I want to fulfill. But at the same time, it’s like, what’s the best move, though? I know who I am as a player. I just want to help the team win. And I feel comfortable doing so with Russ (Westbrook).”
Harrison Faigen: “I love LA. This is home. I grew up watching Kobe.” – PG to open this part two of his documentary on ESPN
Harrison Faigen: PG said he’s “always wanted to play for the Lakers” but also says he wants to win a championship. Mentions Boston and the Clippers as other potential destinations.
He said going to the Lakers wouldn’t be just about playing at home. “The fact of the matter is I’m from [Los Angeles], and I love being here,” he said. “But that has nothing to do with my decision with where I’m going to be playing at the end of the day.”
George, who will decline a $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season, remains seriously interested in returning to the Thunder in free agency, league sources said. The Los Angeles Lakers will receive serious consideration too, sources said. Several teams, including Philadelphia and Houston, are interested in pursuing George too, league sources said.
This is something that former NBA big man Ryan Hollins has voiced during a fill-in appearance on the Stephen A. Smith Show on Monday with that George will be in a purple and gold uniform in the 2018-19 season. “But it’s safe to say. Maybe from a little birdy in Ryan Hollins’ ear. Maybe from conversations that I have had. Maybe from my sources that I am pretty much 99.9% sure that Paul George will be a Laker. Unless there is some amazing thing happening. Some miracle of faith. Paul George wants to come home. Paul George wants to be a Laker.”
An apparent recruiting pitch was leaked to SI.com’s Robin Lundberg and it is in form of a voiceover the Lakers plan on using with video. A person contacted to potentially audition for the voiceover was given directions that it should be “less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx.”
When free agency opens on July 1 — 9 p.m. PT on June 30th for the Lakers — team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka will begin a long-awaited summer in which they hope to land two max free agent stars like James and George. “As Lakers fans, we all thought we had Paul George in the bag and he was 100 percent going to come and in the past few weeks when I heard people saying he might be considering [staying with the Thunder] and having second thoughts, I felt like nobody was really giving attention to Paul George,” Emrani said. “I feel like it is extremely important for Paul George to see this and see how Lakers Nation is so excited about bringing him home.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Attorney and Lakers season ticket holder Jacob Emrani, who put up 4 billboards recruiting LeBron in March, has paid for over 40 billboards for Paul George. There are six different designs, all have the #PG2LA with three designs including LeBron with George. Here’s one billboard:
Ryan Ward: Paul George’s offseason will be featured in three-part SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) series. This will be an interesting watch for #Lakers and #Thunder fans
Ryan Ward: It will be called “Paul George: My Journey,” a three-part series that will debut in the 6 p.m. ET edition of @SportsCenter on Tuesday, June 26. #Lakers #Thunder
Ryan Ward: Part 3 of this @SportsCenter series, which will air after Paul George’s NBA plans are made public, will give viewers a look at what’s next for George and how he arrived at his ultimate decision. All three parts will be approximately six minutes in length. #Lakers #Thunder
If Rob and Magic Johnson ask, would you be willing to attend their free-agent pitch meetings this summer as they try to attract stars like LeBron James and Paul George? Kobe Bryant: Well, no. I mean, I’ll call, but I’m not going to be in the meeting. Listen, I’m not part of the organization in any kind of professional way, right? If the players themselves have questions, [I’ll talk to them]. Or if the Lakers want me to reach out and call a player or something like that – if they want me to talk to the player and give my two cents on what it was like to play here and what this market is like – I’ll certainly do that. But in terms of being part of the meeting in any official way? The answer is no. But Rob and Magic both have great flexibility when it comes to the cap and they have great young talent. And I’ve known Rob for a long time; this dude is as smart as they come, so he’ll figure it out.
Josh Hart: 👀😈
There is a growing belief around the league that Oklahoma City has a far better chance to retain the free agent-to-be Paul George than many believed when the Thunder crashed out of the first round of the playoffs. As George prepares to field the Lakers’ long-anticipated interest, his willingness to post an Instagram picture of himself last month from a hospital bed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee has helped to fuel the notion in some corners that he’s in no rush to leave OKC.
The Thunder is in a better position to keep Paul George than it was when it traded for him last summer, but the Lakers remain a threat. That was the message from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday during the network’s “NBA Draft: On the Clock” special.
“Oklahoma City’s done a great job of selling him on a future there, and he liked playing with Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams and Billy Donovan,” Wojnarowski said. “They have a real opportunity to keep him, but the Lakers are home. He grew up in L.A., and when he left Indiana his plan was that he would be in L.A. in a year. So you have to credit Oklahoma City for really turning his head on that.”
Rob Lopez: Woj says the idea of LeBron James and Paul George partnering up in LA will be a conversation the two players will need to have going into the offseason
Do the Blazers need Paul George to compliment you and Damian Lillard? CJ: “I already tried to get Paul George once. He already turned us down once. You can only shoot your shot so many times in the DMs before you just have to give up. He left me on red receipt, you know [laughs]. “But nah, he’s a cool dude, and he’s got to do what’s best for his family. He couldn’t control where he went. He ended up getting traded anyway to OKC. “I wish him nothing but the best, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy that California sunshine next season.” (Crowd laughs) CJ: “What? It’s the truth.”
ESPNLosAngeles: “You would probably put your money on Paul George.” – @BobbyMarks42 on who is most likely to come to LA
Erik Horne: PG on L.A. (again): “Everybody would love to play for their home, but that’s not the only option for why I want to go somewhere.”
There is still a window of hope that the Thunder can advance and make some noise, but most in NBA circles see George heading to his personal dream situation in L.A. with the Lakers or looking at the Philadelphia 76ers.
“The Lakers plan hasn’t changed. They want to get both of them.” – @wojespn on Lakers going after Lebron & Paul George
Paul George’s candidness is unique. I can’t recall a player so openly flirting with the idea of leaving his current team. But what does it all mean, anyway? The latest noise from NBA executives is more of the same. Most buy into the fact George is drawn by Los Angeles and will leave unless the Thunder reach the NBA Finals. Others have become increasingly skeptical that he’d leave Oklahoma City. One executive said via text on Sunday that he could see George signing a one-year extension with the Thunder then reviewing his options for 2019 when a larger chunk of star free agents to potentially team up with will be available. The same is true for LeBron James, who led the rejuvenated Cavaliers to four straight wins entering the break.
Fred Katz: Paul George says he doesn’t know what he’ll do this summer but also that “I know what I feel is best” Also, says Lakers fans chanting we want Paul “makes you feel great…but I felt the energy. I know where the love is”
Fred Katz: Paul George, moments after the “We want Paul!” chants from Lakers fans: “It feels good to be welcomed. I think anybody would want to be wanted and to be welcomed.”
The Lakers have long been connected to Paul George in free agency this summer and Lakers fans joined in on the pursuit with a “We want Paul” chant in the Staples Center on Thursday night. Well, on Sunday night when the Thunder returned to their home arena, Thunder fans had their own chant showing their love to George. They gave him an ovation and a ‘We love Paul’ chant as he shot free throws.
Fred Katz: Paul George in the “We want Paul” and “We love Paul” chants tonight: “I loved every bit, every second. It was why I was trying to get to the line.”
“I don’t know if whether I’m going to LA, or what I’m going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I’m happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.
Paul George feels “a real brotherhood” with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a sit-down interview, which aired Sunday. Talk of the Los Angeles Lakers has surrounded the five-time All-Star, who will become a free agent at the end of this season. The Lakers are not only George’s hometown team. He also requested to be traded there when he informed the Indiana Pacers he would not be re-signing come 2018 free agency. George has, however, been complimentary of the Oklahoma City Thunder since the team traded for him over the summer.
“I obviously would’ve loved to go home. That was ideal when it was that time,” George told Nichols. “But now, being here and playing alongside Russ, playing alongside Melo, I feel a real brotherhood with those guys. If we’re here right now, then where can we be next year? Where can we be the year after that?”
The Lakers, even have beating the Thunder on Sunday, have struggled, and talk of them bringing in multiple max free agents this summer, while still certainly possible, is not as emphatic around the NBA as it was at the start of the year. Part of that is because people aren’t as pessimistic about the Thunder’s chances of re-signing their best two-way player. “Of course, LA is home, so that’s always going draw the attention. But we’ll see. I won’t rule anything out, but I’m definitely happy where I’m at,” Paul George said to ESPN. “I like where we’re going, and I want to see how this unfolds.”
When Larry Nance Jr. hears rumors about LeBron James, Paul George and/or DeMarcus Cousins potentially joining the Lakers, does he get excited? “Um, hmm. So-so. I mean, like I said, there are rumors that LeBron is going to go [everywhere]. There are rumors about everything. Obviously, everybody knows about the Paul George stuff and that whole saga. Now there’s [talk like], ‘LeBron may come to L.A. and he just bought a house there]!’ And yeah, we read all of that. We read all of the clickbait stuff. But in reality, we’re just focused on what’s in front of us. We’re just trying to be the best team we can be and if someone like LeBron James or Paul George or one of those stars does come here in the summer, then it’s like, ‘Whew! That would increase our win total by, like, 20!’ You read it. You look at it. But in terms of paying attention to it? Not too much.”
Sam Amick on Paul George’s future: “I’m torn on this one. I might have spent a little bit too much time with Paul out in Oklahoma City. Going into this season, I got a strong sense [he would stay]. I know you remember when he came out strong and said that the Thunder had already done everything to prove that they’re a championship-caliber organization. He set this early tone that he didn’t want to go anywhere. But we all knew that we’d have to see how it all played out. I feel like I’m on the fence here. The Lakers thing is real, but he has said consistently that winning and the long-term view and the on-court stuff is the No. 1 factor. So I’m going to take him at his word. I can’t really answer [where he lands] until I know what this OKC team does. We do know this: He has said it’s not a ‘championship or bust’ equation in his head.
Sam Amick: So Paul is on record saying they don’t have to win it all this year for him to want to come back. Does that mean they have to make the Conference Finals? Does that mean it just depends on how he’s feeling [about the situation] even if they only make it to the second round? The playoffs are going to be big. He likes the group. He likes the organization. They’re starting to work out the kinks and figuring out how to all play together… I’m going to say let’s wait until the playoffs and see what happens [before predicting what George will do].”
It would be silly for George to tip his hand when he hasn’t seen all his cards yet. Any combo of Banana Boat riders and him would be formidable anywhere, and the pull of Los Angeles is strong throughout the league. But the Thunder aren’t folding, either. OKC has Westbrook, and it has Anthony, and it has George’s Bird Rights, and that’s way more than almost anybody else is showing at the moment. “Of course, I keep saying L.A. is home, so it’s always going to be a destination,” George said. “But again, I’ll be stupid if we make the conference finals, or we go neck and neck with the Warriors, and this being our first year together, I’d be stupid to walk away from that.”
Fred Katz: Paul George said it was “awesome” to hear the cheers during lineup intros at Staples: “Just the respect, the love, the recruitment. It was awesome.” pic.twitter.com/XGv6b5nd3J
“I’ve got a lot to think about,” George told ESPN before the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 133-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. “This summer will be huge. I’ve got a lot to think about. If we’re trending, if we’re going in the right direction, if I feel there is something that we’re building, and there’s a foundation — it would be kind of clueless, just stupid on my behalf to up and leave.
Shahan Ahmed: Paul George on Lonzo Ball: “As far as being a basketball player, at his age, he’s one of the best basketball players that has played this game. He has a knack to play the game the right way.”
Alex Kennedy: Paul George: Do you think it’s the Lakers or do you think he stays in OKC? Michael Scotto: Right now, I think PG goes to the Lakers. Alex Kennedy: I agree. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. We’ve been hearing about that one for a long time. Michael Scotto: You heard it with Gordon Hayward. Look how that turned out. Anytime you can go home, or close to it, that’s always an enticing factor that outweighs other things on the court.
According to NBA insider Eric Pincus, the Lakers will target both DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George closer to the NBA Trade Deadline. “Plan A for the Lakers is still LeBron James. Having said that, at the deadline, the Lakers have two targets: Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins. I think George is more of a long shot since the Thunder seem to have figured things out over the last 10 games. However, the Pelicans are a different story because they’re just above .500. If they don’t climb the standings, they will be open to move Cousins,” Pincus said during the LakersNation Podcast.
Michael Lee on Paul George’s free agency: “I think he wants to win, first and foremost. I think he’d love to win in L.A., knowing what success in Los Angeles can do for you from a business perspective, from a marketing perspective and just from a legacy perspective. If you win with the Lakers, you’re elevated to a higher place since it’s a storied franchise and the league’s glamour spot. If he could win there, I think that would be great for him. But I think his No. 1 objective is that he wants to win. I mean, he’s 27 now; he’s not getting any younger, he’s in his prime and he’s overcome a lot to get back to being an elite player again. He’s going to explore everything, but I think he’ll go with the place that gives him the best shot at winning. If he can’t find a place where winning at a high level is inevitable, going home is probably his next best option.”
Sam Amick: Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency, meaning his trade value will be depressed. Also, OKC is just 3 games out of 4th spot in the West. Still time…
“The question is, what can Oklahoma City expect to get in a trade?’’ said one Eastern Conference GM. “The Lakers aren’t going to give up two young players for him now. And as for other teams, he’d strictly be a rental, if all the talk about the Lakers is still real.’’
In some circles, the Lakers are still considered the front-runners. The Thunder hasn’t given George many reasons to commit long-term, even after OKC GM Sam Presti was hailed for trading off four role players for George and Anthony. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has looked lost with George and Anthony. At the core of the problem: They’ve got three prolific scorers who are most suited for iso-ball, not for playing the team-oriented brand of basketball played by West-leading Houston and the Warriors. At 12-13 and coming off a home loss to Charlotte, which had won only one road game all season, the Thunder has the 25th offensive rating, at 102.1. They’ve lost a host of games after squandering big leads. “At some point it’s got to stop,’’ George said earlier this week.
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.”
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.
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July 27, 2021 | 5:37 am EDT Update
So, should the Celtics be considered legitimate suitors for Beal? NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller joined Chris Forsberg on a brand new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast to discuss. “I would say this, the Tatum thing is real,” Miller said. “Bradley would have never considered Boston if Tatum wasn’t there. Let’s just be honest, he would have never considered it. But that’s a thing, and before he had to leave [the Olympics] due to COVID, he had some really good synergy with Jayson, and those daily conversations didn’t hurt the Celtics’ chances. …
The Jump on ESPN: “Bradley Beal told me he loves Washington, wants to have a career in Washington and wants his jersey retired there. He wants to be a Wes Unseld type figure. Giannis sticking with Milwaukee could give Beal more motivation to stay in Washington” — @MarcJSpears
The Wizards, multiple sources have said, are aligning toward a full rebuild should Beal ask out. It’s not a coincidence that Bleacher Report reported that there have been preliminary talks between the Lakers and Wizards about a deal for Russell Westbrook, a deal that league sources said was increasingly likely as of Sunday night.
Multiple sources confirmed Sunday that the Toronto Raptors have emerged as a team with “significant” interest in Simmons. One source close to talks said discussions have not been substantial as of yet. Multiple sources including those close to talks said a proposed framework including Raptors guards Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and the 4th overall pick in Thursday’s draft for Simmons was rejected by Toronto.
One other significant shift on the Simmons front: There was talk that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey would be willing to start the season with Simmons to rehab his value before a midseason deal. That idea now seems untenable to executives based on discussions with Philadelphia.
PhillyVoice reached out to multiple team sources on Monday morning in wake of the report, and received pretty firm denials at every stop. “We talked to Ben on his birthday a couple of days ago, we’ve been in touch with him throughout the summer,” one source said. “We’re going to send some training personnel out to see him this summer, too…we have good dialogue with Ben, his team, and his family.”
The Lakers’ bitter cross-town rivals, the LA Clippers, are reportedly also in the running in the DeRozan bidding war. The same goes for the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, and his current team, the Spurs, making it a five-horse race. This is according to NBA insider Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated: