Watch: Lakers fans try to recruit Paul George at Disneyland

By @saihoops on
Paul George, Paul George free agency
Mar 20, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) is guarded by Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. USA TODAY Sports/Brian Spurlock

Paul George, who turned 27 on Tuesday, was at Disneyland on the eve of his birthday after his Indiana Pacers were ousted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the ongoing 2017 NBA Playoffs. During his visit to the happiest place on Earth, the All-Star forward was bombarded by dozens of Los Angeles Lakers fans, who tried to recruit him to the Purple & Gold (see video below). 

Since February’s NBA Trade Deadline, the Paul George to Lakers chatter has gained a ton of steam. Though the Pacers resisted trading George at the time, there's a strong possibility that Indiana move their superstar forward this offseason. George is expected decline his US$20.7 million (AU$27.5 million) Player Option ahead of the 2018-19 NBA season and become an unrestricted free agent. Since the Pacers can't afford to lose PG-13 for nothing, they are expected to pull a trigger on a Paul George trade at some stage in the near future.

Paul George "hell-bent on coming to Los Angeles," says insider

In the aftermath of the Pacers' exit from the 2017 NBA Playoffs, former players, media members and NBA front office insiders collectively wondered if George had played his last game for Indiana. Though the new Pacers front office, under Kevin Pritchard, has reiterated its desire to re-sign George, Sam Amick of USA Today reported last Friday that the All-Star is "hell-bent on coming to Los Angeles" to play for his hometown franchise. "Whether in free agency two summers from now or via trade before then, the four-time All-Star is still hell-bent on joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Maybe now more than ever," read the report. 

If George qualifies for an All NBA Team, the Pacers can offer him a five-year extension worth US$212 million ($AU282 million). George would be leaving approximately US$70 million (AU$93 million) on the table if he were to test free agency next year. If George doesn't qualify for an All-NBA Team, the Pacers would still be in a position to out-bid rival suitors by US$40 million (AU$53 million) on accounts of an additional year in the contract. However, industry experts believe that George would get ample endorsement opportunities in Los Angeles to make up for the lost money.

Amick's report added that George dreams of succeeding Kobe Bryant as the Lakers' new franchise player. "For George’s part, the prospect of building a winner in Laker Land still looms large. There’s even more of a Kobe connection in Laker Land now than there was at the trade deadline, too, with Bryant’s former agent, Rob Pelinka, having been hired in early March to serve as the team’s general manager. Bird stepping down from his Pacers post didn’t change any of this in the least." The 27-year-old Paul George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his seventh season in the league. The Pacers drafted George in 2010.