The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery concluded on Tuesday night, which you can see the final results of here. The top three selections of the June 22 draft are as follows: No. 1: Boston Celtics, No. 2: Los Angeles Lakers, and No. 3: Philadelphia 76ers.
The Pacers haven’t picked in the lottery since drafting Myles Turner with the 11th overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, and even though they found themselves out of the top-14 selection for the second-consecutive year, their future could very well still be impacted by the results of what occurred tonight.
There has been a good deal of speculation surrounding Pacers’ star Paul George, and his future in Indiana, as he can opt out of his contract after this coming season - making him a free agent in the summer of 2018. Back in February, there were various report that George was “hell-bent” on joining his hometown Lakers as a possible free agent destination. He has stated his desire to play for a winning team that can contend for a championship as he is in the midst of his prime years, and if the Pacers cannot show George that they can build a contending team around him, he may be as-good-as-gone.
But this is where things get very, very interesting: the Lakers own the 2nd selection in this year’s draft, where there is a high possibility that UCLA standout guard Lonzo Ball, another California native, could still be available when the Lakers are on the clock. With the Celtics owning the rights to the first pick, there is a strong chance that they may wind up taking Washington’s Markelle Fultz - who is believed to be the overall better player between Ball and himself. It’s also worth noting that Lonzo’s dad, LaVar ball, has been very public about his son playing for his hometown Lakers. It seems like a perfect match, doesn’t it?
But back to the Pacers... With the possibility of George wishing to play for the Lakers, whether it be from joining the team as a free agent or through a trade, Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard would be wise to trade George if he has the slightest bit of doubt that the 27-year-old forward has any desire to stay in Indiana. The last thing he would want would be for George to bolt as a free agent with the Pacers getting nothing in the process - which could kickstart a possible rebuild for years following George’s departure.
As Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star pointed out, all three of the teams in the top-three of the draft had an interest in trading for George prior to February’s NBA trade deadline. With each of those teams boasting young assets and high picks in this year’s draft, they would all be perfect suitors for any potential trade involving George.
While it is not set-in-stone that George is even going to leave the Pacers (he still has one more year left on his contract before he can opt out), his clear displeasure with the team’s direction certainly isn’t a good sign for fans.
A lot can happen between now and the draft in determining George’s future with the Pacers, including the All-NBA team reveal later this week, but for now we will have to wait. Look for the George trade rumors to heat up as draft night approaches.