Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird spent NBA trade deadline day rebuffing offers for four-time All-Star Paul George—which came from teams like the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Atlanta Hawks.
But George certainly wasn't psyched about his name's being involved in trade discussions at all.
"I kind of was on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen," he told reporters on Thursday. "It's kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. If they want me to by the guy here, I thought I'd be in the loop a little more."
But George's displeasure with deadline proceedings gets even worse for Pacers fans.
According to USA Today's Sam Amick, the Palmdale, California, native "would love nothing more than to sign with his hometown [Los Angeles Lakers] if the future is bleak in Indiana." Amick then doubled down on this assertion by tweeting that George will be "hell-bent" on signing with the Lakers if the Pacers aren't competing for a championship when his contract is up.
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.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 23, 2017
George will become a free agent in 2018, when he'll almost definitely turn down an option for 2018-19. The Pacers are 29-28, good for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. But outside of sophomore Myles Turner, the roster is loaded with older talent, most of which is headed for decline. Depending on how Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles weigh their player options for next season, the Pacers could have enough cap space to sign a player to a maximum contract this summer.
Which could help, because over the All-Star break George expressed a desire to win in Indiana.
“As I told Larry, I always want to play on a winning team,” he told ESPN Radio. “I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it [all]. That’s important. Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.
“I wanted to be the first and want to be the first to be able to bring a championship to Indiana. So that’s still on my mind … and something I definitely want to achieve in Indiana.”