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Paul George forces Pacers to opt out on his final year

Report that Paul George won’t return to the Pacers after his contract is up next summer, means he can’t return this year either.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

And we thought Monta Ellis sucked the last bit of life out of his trade value.

Paul George no doubt spent Father’s Day doting on his daughter, but his agent, Aaron Mintz dropped a bomb on the Pacers with Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that Mintz informed Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers that Paul George will opt out of his contract after next season, as expected, but would not consider returning to the Pacers.

Technically, before the Woj bomb hit, Mintz made sure the Pacers knew his client’s intentions on Saturday. The timing makes sense considering PG had a big charity event in Indy on Thursday but now may only return for some of his belongings.

While PG said he plans to play out his contract on Thursday, he left out the obvious part about then going to the Lakers. He would be fine doing that, but no one in Indy would enjoy the anti-farewell tour, so the Pacers are suddenly busy, as Woj reports.

In the past 24 hours, Pritchard has become more aggressive in pursuing trades for George, league sources told The Vertical. Pritchard has yet to show an inclination to engage the Lakers, but has discussed deals with several teams – including Cleveland – in which the expectation of teams would be that George is a “one-year rental.” The Cavaliers are devoid of the kind of young players and future picks that Indiana might want in return for George, and George has never mentioned the Cavaliers as an intriguing destination.

PG also said he hasn’t spoken with LeBron James, but I remain wary of an alliance King James is developing for his third (or is it fourth) NBA act, teaming up with one more group of players in their prime, this time in say...Los Angeles. I still don’t believe PG just wants to go to the Lakers (or Clippers) to be near his home town. He wants to win and also probably doesn’t want to have to be the lead focal point of a team, as he was with the Pacers.

Only time will tell, but there sure seems to be more to the story.

Unfortunately, the Pacers never looked ahead more than a move at a time with PG and after failing to do anything at the trade deadline (either to support PG or move him) they are now left scrambling. Shockingly, this scenario was a “surprise” to the Pacers, as Nate Taylor reported.

Not sure I fully believe that since there were rumblings of this news earlier in the week, something Evan Morris shared with me from a source not strong enough to report.

So the draft is on Thursday and the Celtics and Sixers have already generated a monster deal at the top of the draft. Pritchard will have to pull off a miracle to keep the Pacers from being left decimated for the upcoming season.

On the bright side, there is some stupid good talent at the top of the next two drafts. But that is little consolation now as we find out just how much the Pacers will pay for letting Paul George watch the team slide back, leaving him frustrated and finally finished with the team as he heads into his prime playing years.