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Stephen A. Smith: Paul George will stay with Cavs as long as LeBron stays with Cavs

Paul George Cavs Jersey

By now, most NBA fans know that the Cleveland Cavaliers have been engaged in trade talks with the Indiana Pacers over the past few weeks for All-Star swingman Paul George. As of now, those discussions have stalled a bit, but there are clues being dropped along the trail.

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, should he be traded to the Cavs, George, 27, would like for LeBron James to stay onboard as a member of the team.

As most Cavs fans know, James has an option in his contract after the 2017-18 season. Whether or not James will stay with the Cavaliers is a topic for an entirely separate article. However, if George, who some are viewing as a “rental plan,” were to join the Cavs, it could make the King’s decision that much easier. And according to Smith, it could be more than just a “rental.”

Via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation:

“He’s obviously indicated he doesn’t want to stay with the Pacers, which has put them in a bind,” Smith said of George on SportsCenter. “He can’t stay there; they’ve got to make a move this summer because they can’t open the season with him. So they’re looking to move him. According to numerous reports, he’s told the Los Angeles Lakers that he wants to be there. He intends and practically guaranteed them that he’s coming by summer 2018. But from what I heard as recently as a couple of days ago, is that he’s letting word leak to the Cleveland Cavaliers that if LeBron indeed elects to stay in Cleveland, then Paul George won’t depart Cleveland as long as LeBron is still there if they pull off a trade to acquire him.”

“Now it appears to be the Cavaliers or the Los Angeles Clippers. You hear stuff about the San Antonio Spurs and things of that nature, which he wouldn’t mind, but that would be a one-year rental. Whereas with the Cleveland Cavaliers it appears it would be more than that if LeBron James stayed. But his ideal landing spot would be the Los Angeles Lakers, despite the fact that they’re not contenders right now.”

The Lakers were believed to be the front-runners in acquiring George. However, Los Angeles has proven to be reluctant to include their talented young core of Brandon Ingram and newly-drafted Lonzo Ball in a deal for George. If the Lakers are indeed intent on acquiring George, Smith’s report doesn’t help their cause.

As for the Pacers, well, this situation simply puts them in a bind. They certainly could benefit from a George trade, but not without a proper return in assets. George, a four-time All-Star, has been the face of the Pacers organization for quite some time now. Needless to say, it won’t be easy for Indiana to find a replacement.

Discussions of where George will land are purely speculation at this point. There are (and will continue to be) several teams hot on his trail. We’ll just have to wait and see if a deal is made.

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