The Indiana Pacers are reportedly looking at offers for superstar Paul George. With George under contract through next year, the Pacers are unlikely to move him for anything less than an incredible return.
A recent report from The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski states that the Indiana Pacers are listening to trade offers for superstar Paul George. This news is somewhat surprising given that George is under contract through next year. However, Wojnarowski’s report gives some interesting clues as to why George might be on the market.
According to The Vertical, George plans to either re-sign with the Pacers in 2018 or move to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. It seems telling that this report came out the day after the Lakers’ front office overhaul. Larry Bird might be engaging in trade talks for George with an eye on his old rival Magic Johnson.
Since George is under contract next year, the Pacers have no immediate need to move on from George. Furthermore, George has neither demanded a trade nor declared that he will not re-sign with the Pacers. Thus, any trade talks are likely to be more exploratory than desperate. A Paul George trade would signal the start of the Myles Turner era. However, Indiana is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference.
While a George trade would signal the start of rebuilding around Myles Turner, the Pacers are also looking to bring in new pieces to convince George to stay in Indiana. With DeMarcus Cousins off the market, George and Jimmy Butler are the biggest names that may be available at the deadline.
Chicago and Indiana will likely receive similar offers for their superstars. The trade deadline may come down to which Central Division team moves its star wing first.
Old Rivals Collide
Wojnarowski’s report implicates the Boston Celtics as one of the bidders for Paul George. According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, the Lakers are another major contender. The two biggest rivals in the NBA might not be competing against each other for an NBA title this year, but they may be the last teams standing in the race for Paul George.
The Celtics are sitting on a treasure trove of assets and can make a variety of different offers for George. If Larry Bird opts against a full tear-down, they could ask for Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder in the deal. A package of Bradley or Crowder, Jaylen Brown, Tyler Zeller, and one of Boston’s first round picks from Brooklyn would probably knock the Pacers out of playoff contention without tearing the team down completely.
That offer might be too much for Boston, especially without re-assurance that George would re-sign. They could offer a package around one of their Brooklyn picks, Amir Johnson and Jaylen Brown. The Pacers might ask for a future first along with that type of package, which would engender a slower rebuild.
The Lakers have a stronger negotiating position than the Celtics since George would probably re-sign there. However, they are also highly incentivized to throw away the rest of the season. If their pick this year falls outside of the top three, they lose not only this year’s pick but their 2019 first to Orlando as a condition of the Dwight Howard trade.
Thus, they would make more sense as an offseason destination for George. They could offer some young pieces in Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. However, all signs point to George being an offseason trade move if the Lakers want to aim for him.
Indiana does not need to trade Paul George before the deadline. They are currently a playoff team, and George will not become a free agent this offseason. These trade talks appear to be gauging George’s value more than a desperate search to ship him out.
Myles Turner is still only in his second season and is quietly having a stellar year. The Pacers would be well-served to give the George/Turner combo at least one more playoff run before blowing things up. George might be convinced to stay if Turner continues to develop his game at such a rapid pace.