Paul George is happy where he’s at, not looking for real estate in L.A.
Paul George is home in Los Angeles for the offseason and Tuesday morning he made an appearance on the “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio. The first-time All-Star wasn’t asked about his growth, where he wants to improve or the Pacers making it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The five-minute conversation centered around his future with the Pacers, who drafted him at No. 10 in 2010.
Next summer, after George’s fourth season as a pro, he’ll become a restricted free agent — meaning the Pacers have the right to match any offer. Both sides, however, are hoping to reach a long-term agreement that presumably will be a maximum deal for George.
During this month’s free agency, particularly given the future of the Los Angeles Lakers after failing to re-sign center Dwight Howard, some have thrown out the idea of George staying home to join his idol, Kobe Bryant. While George grew up a Clippers fan, he was always looked up to Bryant’s game and has previously said, ”one day I’m going to be like him.” Brian Shaw, the Pacers associate head coach the past two seasons, shared all kinds of Bryant stories with George and taught him about his work ethic.
So when George joined the show, the first question sent his way, of course, was about changing teams.
“My heart is still in Indiana,” the 23-year-old said. “… I’m still a Pacer, and hopefully I remain a Pacer. I’m happy where I’m at.”
George said that him hypothetically joining the Lakers would certainly be a “family-favorite team.”
“Of course it would be tough (to say no to Kobe). You’re talking about playing [at] home.”
George was then pressed as to what makes his situation in Indiana, with a great locker room, so special.
“Everyone is some comfortable with one another that before our practice or our day starts, everyone in our locker room has a conversation with one another,” he said. ”We enjoy one another’s company outside of basketball.”
His decision won’t be an easy one. The Pacers will be able to offer him the largest deal. Though David West is the heart and soul of the team, Paul George is the face and the future.
“I definitely want to win,” George said of what he desires. “I want to be a champion. I want to get a ring. I think all of that should be in my future as an NBA player. I think that’ll be the case of if I want to leave or stay in Indiana. I think the only thing that will change that is who’s on the roster and who’s with me. Now, I know what I have with me now and that’s more than enough to win a championship. Again, where I’m at — I’m a happy player and I’m in a happy place right now.”
Pacers officials, who one agent recently described to Pacers.com as “the best people in the world to ever do business with,” have talked with George and his camp about their intentions.
“It’s still early,” George said, “but we’ve talked and I think we’re on the same page. It’s mutual where we’re at.
“It’s all about loyalty and that’s what I’m strong on is being loyal.”
Concluding the interview with a straight-forward question, Cowherd asked George why he’s spending his summer in Los Angeles and whether that might be a hint.
“Well, this is where I grew up at,” George explained. “A lot of guys like to vacation out to other places and other cities. This is where I love to vacation and come back home. All year, I don’t get to see my family so this is how I’m able to work out, still see family, enjoy nice weather. It’s got a lot of positives to be out here in California but the last thing is looking for real estate. That’s the last thing Indiana has to worry about.”