Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George has had a very unique career arc during his six years in the NBA.
After being a pretty high lottery pick for Indiana, his first two seasons were middling. Then, in 2013, his career took a huge leap.
He won Most Improved Player and was named to the All-star team for the first time. He lead his team to the Eastern Conference Finals where they put up a valiant effort against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Everything changed for George a year later during a US National Team scrimmage when he landed awkwardly under the basket and violently broke his leg. George missed an entire season.
He came back last year and was one of the feel-good stories of the league, earning another All-Star selection and reaffirming his spot as one of the best players in the league.
But the Pacers only ended up with a seven seed and a first round playoff loss to show for it. And as they start the 2016-17 season with equally mediocre results, their star may be looking ahead to greener pastures elsewhere.
Larry Bird has been very open about ‘We’d like to sign Paul George to an extension’ and without outright saying it there is nothing going on there. Paul George has kind of made it clear that he’s really not interested in an extension.”
— Marc Stein via Hoops Hype
Now, this doesn’t mean George is 100 percent out of the door. It may just mean he wants to wait until the offseason and take some meetings with other teams. But it certainly isn’t a good sign for Indiana.
Recently, stars that have taken free agency meetings around the league have left their home teams more often than not, dating back to LeBron James leaving the Heat, and spanning across LaMarcus Aldridge leaving the Portland Trail Blazers and Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder.
All the major free agency players will be out in an attempt to woo George. It is probably too early for the Pacers to talk trades, but if they don’t feel good about his return, it may be smart to flip him for a young star or some valuable draft picks.