NBA trade rumors are now peaking as we are close to within a few short hours of the 2017 trade deadline. Most of the scuttlebutt regarding the Indiana Pacers has been that president of basketball operations Larry Bird is trying to improve the roster around star small forward Paul George, but there is now some fresh information that indicates the Pacers are also gauging Paul George’s value on the trade market, in the event that turns out to be a more prudent option.
SB Nation reports that Indiana is now listening to offers for Paul George, which is contrary to Larry Bird’s long-held stance that he is not considering any deal that would involve his All-Star forward. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports describes the Pacers’ trade deadline strategy as being two-pronged.
“‘The Pacers are working the trade deadline on parallel fronts: pursuing deals that will bring talent into Indiana to sell George on signing a long-term extension — and soliciting deal offers on George that would signal a rebuild around center Myles Turner,’ league sources told The Vertical.”
“Ultimately, the Pacers will have to evaluate the two paths and make a decision before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. There’s no urgency to make a deal for George, unless the Pacers fear the Boston Celtics could ultimately provide Indiana the best possible package of assets in a deal — and think that option could disappear if Boston makes a deal with Chicago for Jimmy Butler.”
Another element to this scenario, as pointed out by Fansided, is what dealing Paul George could mean in terms of Indiana’s ability to re-sign point guard Jeff Teague when he becomes a free agent this summer. If George is gone and the Pacers go into full rebuilding mode, Teague, as well as small forward C.J. Miles, could decide to leave Indiana to sign with a team that is closer to being a contender. The theory is that if Larry Bird feels it is best to move George before the trade deadline, he will shift his focus and build the team around center Myles Turner, who Bird recently said has a chance to be one of the best Pacers players in the history of the franchise.
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These NBA trade rumors are coming from reliable sources, but they are more general in nature (no particular teams being mentioned as potential destinations for Paul George). However, there is an even more specific scenario that is being discussed in the media, and the source is an NBA executive who has made a bold prediction regarding the Pacers and Paul George.
According to CBS Boston, an unnamed NBA executive has told Marc Stein of ESPN that he believes the Boston Celtics will swing a deal for Paul George before the trade deadline. Stein went on to explain that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is, in fact, trying to acquire a star player before Thursday’s deadline, and he is likely targeting George or Chicago Bulls All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler.
If it is true that the Pacers are working the trade market on dual fronts, this would appear to be a wise move. Larry Bird has stated that he is not listening to any inquiries regarding Paul George, but if anyone is making legitimate offers for George, Bird should be listening — you never know when there might be someone who is in love with one of your players and is prepared to make a blockbuster offer that would be of great benefit to your franchise. NBA executives who say certain players are “untouchable” or that they won’t take calls for certain players are limiting themselves and could be passing up good opportunities from time to time.
In sports, as in life, it is usually best to keep your options open. The Pacers don’t particularly want to trade Paul George; they would prefer to build a team around him. However, if Bird feels that George may not re-sign after next season and a huge offer is made for George this week, Bird should listen and evaluate the proposal. The Boston Celtics have the ability to offer a package of players and draft choices that would be fair compensation for an All-Star such as Paul George, so if Danny Ainge really wants him, the Pacers should be open to that discussion.
[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]