Paul George shocked the Indiana Pacers when he came out and publicly said that he would not pick up his option after the 2017-18 NBA season and planned to leave the team at that time. The Pacers have been trying to build a contender around George and the proclamation seemed to shake the core of the Pacers franchise. Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard went so far as to call it a “total gut punch” and he is trying to find a way to save the future of the Pacers’ franchise.

The Paul George problem

Paul George made it clear that in 2018, he has every intention of heading out west and trying to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers franchise.

That did one of two things. The timing of the announcement came at a time where the Indiana Pacers couldn’t do anything to try to right the ship and remain competitive. Since George made the announcement before the NBA Draft. There was little that the team could do to move him.

Since all the teams in the NBA know that Paul George wants out of Indiana and that he plans to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, they don’t have to offer enough talent to help the Pacers replace Paul in their lineup. His trade value just collapsed for the Indiana Pacers unless a team thinks they have enough to try to convince him to change his mind and stay with them. The Lakers, knowing they are in what looks to be a rebuilding year anyway with rookie Lonzo Ball, can wait until 2018 and not lose anything in the move.

The good news for the Indiana Pacers

The good news for the Indiana Pacers is that they can still trade Paul George to a contender during the 2017-18 NBA season, knowing that he won’t return the next year. If a team like the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, or Washington Wizard believe that George can put them in the position to overtake the Golden State Warriors, Indiana can get something in return.

It is the opposite problem that the Oklahoma City Thunder had when Kevin Durant pretended he was loyal to the franchise and city and waited until his free agent opportunity came to bolt the team and left them with nothing in return for his loss. Paul George was at least man enough to let the Indiana Pacers know before his final season that he was leaving so that they could at least try to salvage something from his loss.

The Indiana Pacers were unable to trade Paul George for draft picks before the 2017 NBA Draft but they will continue to look at ways to build for their future now that he has made it clear he doesn’t want to be in Indiana anymore.