Paul George trade rumors continue to float around the NBA and on social media. This is not a new situation for the Indiana Pacers, as George has been mentioned in numerous trade discussions over the past few years. Early season struggles haven’t helped either, as the Pacers are outside of the playoff picture through 24 games. The updated NBA standings show that the Pacers made up some ground on the No. 8 seeded Atlanta Hawks and could actually overtake them by winning on Monday evening (Dec. 12) against the Charlotte Hornets.
Last season, the Pacers snuck into the NBA Playoffs as the No. 7 seed but ended up getting eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in a first-round series. Though the series lasted the full seven games, it inevitably led to more Paul George trade rumors, with several NBA analysts stating that it was time for the franchise to go in a new direction. The Pacers held on to George and entered the 2016-17 NBA season with renewed hope of finding postseason success. Then a report by the Sporting News further fueled chatter about George getting dealt for a group of younger players.
While the rumors generated by the Sporting News and later Yahoo! Sports have been refuted by the Pacers, it did get fans thinking about how a deal with the Detroit Pistons might work. The story suggested that the Indiana Pacers could send Paul George and Monta Ellis to Detroit to join Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. To make the deal work, the Pistons would give up Tobias Harris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, and three future first-round picks.
A deal like that would immediately make the Detroit Pistons a serious contender to win the Eastern Conference. It would also force the Indiana Pacers into a serious rebuild, with a bevy of draft picks to kick-start the efforts. The Pacers aren’t desperate to move George, though, especially since he still has more than two seasons left on his current contract. The two sides have even had initial discussions about a hefty contract extension to keep him with the franchise even longer.
In his first 17 games of the 2016-17 NBA season, Paul George has averaged 21.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. George is playing 35.2 minutes a night and appears on track to join the Eastern Conference All-Star team again. He has even improved his shooting percentages to 44.5 from the field, 39.0 from three-point range, and 92.2 from the free throw line. This shows it isn’t his fault that the Pacers haven’t been winning at a consistent rate.
If the Indiana Pacers could put together a nice winning streak, the team would easily move up the Eastern Conference standings. The third place team is currently the Charlotte Hornets with a record of 14-10 on the season. That puts the Hornet only two games ahead of the Pacers (12-12) coming into the games on Monday night. That’s how close they are to the rest of the pack in the race for the 2017 NBA Playoffs. The Pacers are in a tough division, though, which has the team tied for last place in the Central at this early point of the season.
This is a situation where George and the Pacers are going to continually deal with rumors until the team can prove that it will actually be able to contend in the Eastern Conference. Moving up the standings over the next week would accomplish just that, as it would then move the NBA analysts into discussions about what pieces the team should target to improve its odds in the postseason. For now, the Paul George trade rumors will continue, with fans of other teams continuing to salivate about the possibilities.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]