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Paul George informs Pacers he plans to become free agent summer of 2018

Paul George has plans that extend beyond the Indiana Pacers.

The All-Star has reportedly informed the Pacers that he intends to become a free agent next summer and prefers the possibility of joining the Los Angeles Lakers, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

This likely doesn’t come as a huge shock for the franchise as rumblings of George’s inevitable departure have been around for awhile now.

Woj also reports that George intends to play out the next season for the Pacers before becoming a free agent, and just wanted to give the franchise time to prepare for his departure. This will of course make the Pacers more interested in trading George so they can get something back for him, but the return likely won’t be as high now with this news out.

George can ink a four-year, $130 million deal with the Lakers next summer. He could make more by staying in Indiana with the Pacers able to offer him one more year on a contract.

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George’s desire to join the Lakers has massive repercussions on the free-agent market in 2018. Under president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, George would represent the first NBA star in years to choose the Lakers in free agency. As Los Angeles’ management reshapes its roster, George could be a lure to recruit other top available players to the Lakers.

Between then and now, the pressure will mount for the Pacers to formulate a trade with the Lakers in the near future, because the risk of losing a star of George’s stature for nothing next summer is potentially devastating. If management takes George at his word about wanting to join the Lakers in 2018, it may be cornered into making the best possible trade it can with Los Angeles now, squeezing whatever value out of the Lakers that Indiana can acquire in a deal for George.

This could really shake up the landscape of the NBA and influence what happens in this week’s NBA Draft.

The Lakers reportedly wanted to move up from the No. 2 spot to No. 1 so that they could draft Markelle Fultz. That won’t happen now with the Celtics and 76ers agreeing to swap the first and third picks.

While it may be tempting to use the resources the Lakers currently have to make a trade for George now, that may not make the most sense in the long run with George’s desire to come to L.A. as a free agent already on the table.