For seven seasons, Paul George has been at the core of what the Indiana Pacers thought could be return to Eastern Conference and possibly NBA Finals contention for years to come.

 

However, due to injuries, trades and departures, the promise that the Pacers had quickly dwindled and the four-time all star has reportedly had enough of it.

 

This is why George reportedly told the Pacers his plans of leaving the team next summer after his contract is up and most likely join the Los Angeles Lakers, his hometown team.

 

This announcement really comes as no surprise to fans who have not only followed this past season, but the past few as a whole, for George and the Pacers.

 

(Slam Online)

A couple of summers ago, while playing for Team USA, we all witnessed George’s horrific injury as he broke his leg against the stanchion while on a fast break. This injury not only obviously set George back, but the Pacers franchise as a whole.

 

George would triumphantly return later that next season in April and heading into this season, there was all the promise in the world that the potential for him, and this team, was still there.

 

Despite the potential, things didn’t exactly pan out the way they expected to in Indiana on multiple fronts. The Pacers finished as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and would eventually get swept out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. On top of this, despite George having a stellar season, he would miss out on a new NBA contract rule that would have netted him a possible extra $75 million dollars had he made an All-NBA team and signed an extension with the Pacers, the team he has played his first seven seasons with.

 

So not only did his team barely make the playoffs and get ousted in the first round via sweep, but he also missed out on an even bigger payday that would have given him $75 million more reasons to want to stay in Indiana to try to continue to build something there. What made matters worse for the Pacers and the decision to leave next year for George even easier was the fact that team President and NBA legend Larry Bird decided to suddenly step down from his position.

 

With their team President gone and their star player informing them of his plans to leave, the Pacers’ hands are forced to do one of two things: Let him play out this season and possibly lose him for free to free agency, or try to trade him to a contender and in return, receive value for him.

 

If I had to take a wild guess, I would say that the Pacers would likely try to trade George and get some potential value in return.

 

Now the question lingers… Who do you trade him to?

 

(Silver Screen & Roll)

The likely destination, if via trade, would be the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Looking at what the Warriors just accomplished with the addition of Kevin Durant, many say that George would be a perfect counterpart in Cleveland. George, a 6’8 wingman, possesses the about to handle, shoot and get to the rim similar to those of Durant’s. George also prides himself as a top two-way player in the league which would be a huge help to the Cavs who were lackluster defensively last season and would give them a viable defender for players like Durant.

 

With LeBron at the head, Kyrie Irving and Paul George could potentially flourish together as go to scoring options who can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways and also open up the floor for LeBron to operate effectively.

 

George would in fact be a definite upgrade over Kevin Love, who although had a good series versus the Warriors was compromised on the defensive end when having to guard Durant or even Draymond Green.

 

Again, this would be the likely destination for George if and when the Pacers do look to trade him, which will likely be their first option at this point knowing he doesn’t want to truly be in Indiana.

 

If this cannot go down, this would be the worst case scenario for the Pacers who will have to go into this series knowing that George will be playing inspired basketball, but not for Indiana. Instead, this season would serve as an audition for the potential bidding war that will ensue next offseason even though he has made it clear that he wants to play in LA.

 

The way this Paul George storyline will play out will continue to linger as one of the main headlines entering and during this upcoming NBA season. Let’s see what the Pacers can and cannot with this situation.

 

Do you think Paul George will make it through the season as a Pacer? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.