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.
The Lakers have been adamant that they will not part with the No. 2 pick or last season’s No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram in a trade for George, knowing that the Pacers’ All-Star hopes to sign with his hometown Lakers as a free agent in July 2018.
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.
The Rockets, Cavaliers, Clippers and Wizards are among the teams that have also held trade talks with the Pacers since the weekend, league sources told ESPN. They’ve done so knowing George is determined to play out his current contract and become an unrestricted free agent in July 2018.
Trading for George now would obviously come at a cost for the Lakers, but it would also insulate them from the possibility that another team gambles on a one-season rental with the highly coveted two-way swingman and uses a successful season to persuade George to stay.
Teams with a known willingness to gamble — such as Boston, Houston and, of course, Cleveland — might be willing to surrender quality trade assets, believing they can persuade the 27-year-old George to reconsider his plans for 2018.
The Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday that new Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard is determined to complete a George trade either before or coinciding with Thursday’s draft.
ESPN’s Chris Haynes contributed to this report.