When the 2016-2017 trade deadline approached, late rumors of Paul George being shopped by the Indiana Pacers made the NBA world sit up in their seats. As you may have been able to tell by now, those rumors were just what they were labeled as: rumors.
However, with the NBA Draft right around the corner teams may kick it up a notch in terms of offering assets to try and land George. George has made it clear that he expects to play out his contract with the Pacers. But as the old adage goes: “we must expect the unexpected.”
There have been several teams that have been linked to George, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Cleveland Cavaliers. That being said, there are only a few teams who have separated themselves as serious contenders to acquire George.
It was clear to see the Nuggets interest in bringing George in. Per Marc Stein of ESPN, the Nuggets brass offered a ‘monster deal‘ Indiana’s way. In order to land such a superstar, major assets would’ve had to been dealt. In this instance, Denver only has a few assets that a team like Indiana would be interested in, including Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. Knowing that the Nuggets’ brass is unwilling to move Jokic, Mudiay and the others may have been the odd men out.
George has emphasized how he would not sign a long-term deal with the Nuggets, however, a one-year commitment from George could be a win-win for both sides. In this scenario, George plays out his one-year left with Denver and then hits the open market. Denver, on the other hand, gets a superstar they can pair with a budding dominant big-man in Jokic and could make some noise in the postseason. If Denver can make a run they could then be a destination that other free-agents entertain. Denver’s pitch: join a young and upstart organization that with the right pieces could contend with the dominant forces out in the West.
So, what needs to be done for George to put on a Denver Nuggets jersey next season? Denver would have to try and pair Mudiay, this year’s No. 13 overall pick, and next years first-round pick. It’s a risky deal and one that Denver may not think to pursue due to the lack of commitment by George.
The Hawks are in dire need of a superstar. They showed this desperation to attain one at the trade deadline, offering four first-round picks for George. That’s right, four! Given the depth of this year’s draft class, it calls into question why Atlanta would feel the need to do so. This reeks of another Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics type of deal that took place back in 2013. George would almost assuredly leave the following season in free-agency, and Atlanta would be four draft picks in the hole. The future in good ol’ Atlanta would look very murky’
Let’s not rule out how serious a contender Atlanta would be if they are able to pull this deal off. The main priority in the off-season would be to resign Paul Millsap of course. The starting line-up for Atlanta could offer an awful lot of firepower. Sending out Dennis Shroeder, Kent Bazemore, Paul George, Paul Millsap, and Dwight Howard. That sounds like a team that if healthy could very realistically contend against the powerhouses in the East.
Some might question why Indiana would turn down four first-round picks, especially with George’s days for the Pacers being numbered. If Indiana had accepted this trade, the rebuilding process just might be faster. It would make sense for Indiana to get value for George while he still remains under contract.
Los Angeles Lakers
It is no secret, George wants to be a Laker. More importantly, the Lakers want George to be in Los Angeles. The sticky situation that prevents this from happening is current Lakers small forward Brandon Ingram. Indiana wants Ingram and the Lakers are hesitant to agree. The asking price at the trade deadline for George was a combination of Ingram and the second overall pick in the upcoming draft. With George becoming a free agent next season, it would be wise for the Lakers to be patient and wait to sign George while keeping all of their assets.
For the Pacers, then-GM Larry Bird was hoping that the desire to play for the Lakers would be enough for both sides to come to an agreement. However, Laker president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is very high on Brandon Ingram’s potential growth as a player. If the trade were to go through and Ingram and the pick had been dealt, both sides would benefit. The Pacers would have their potential franchise centerpiece in Ingram and possibly a second with the pick. The Lakers would get the superstar they have been so desperately needing in George, whose hunger to join the list of Laker greats is well-known.
What can be said of the Indiana Pacers and George? Other than the fact that it was a hell of a ride. George brought back basketball to Indiana when they selected him with the No. 10 overall pick back in 2010. Throughout his time there he developed his game and became a dominant force in the league. It appeared his career was in jeopardy following a gruesome leg injury in the Team USA Blue vs. White scrimmage back in 2014, but not only did he recover, it seems as if he has not missed a beat. Indiana stuck with George and gave him the support needed when faced with this crossroad in his career.
For George to stay with the Pacers after his current contract runs out, they will have to lay out a plan for the direction of the organization to George. With Larry Bird now out of the picture, Indiana seems to be working on its next course of action. The draft and who they select with the 18th overall pick could be crucial for the future of the Pacers. It doesn’t seem like much can be done to keep George, as it appears that even a good draft selection won’t be enough to sell George on their future. All in all Pacers fans, enjoy this season with George because it could very well be his last in a Pacers jersey.