Word around the NBA is that with Larry Bird gone from the Indiana Pacers front office, the way is even more clear for star Paul George to pursue his dream of playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. George felt a loyalty to Bird, who saw George’s potential early and helped put him on the path toward franchise player. Now George reportedly has told Pacers new management of his intention to try to join the Lakers when he becomes a free agent after next season. (George hails from Southern California.)
George’s candor about his intentions puts new Pacers president Kevin Pritchard in a position perhaps only Pritchard might relish. Trying to trade George for something meaningful now will be harder, since there’s no mystery about where George wants to play in the near future. (George’s move handcuffs the Pacers.) But if there is an NBA executive ready to turn the Paul George lemons into Indiana lemonade it’s probably Pritchard. Pritchard was such a canny executive when he was with the Portland Trail Blazers that the phrase “Pritch Slap” was heard around the league: it defined what happened to other execs who negotiated deals with Pritchard, as he often came away with the better hand. It’ll be interesting to see what Pritchard does with a lame duck Paul George.