Paul George Trade Rumors: Larry Bird Addresses Indiana Pacers Trade Chatter

Paul George trade rumors may have just been put to bed. Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird seems very intent to hold on to George until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place. A report by NBA analyst Zach Lowe sheds some light on the latest rumors, possibly bursting the bubble of fans hoping that their team might be able to acquire George before the trade deadline.

Lowe relays information he gathered from teams that have inquired about the availability of George. It seems that Bird is not returning phone calls about the All-Star and member of Team USA. With the Pacers battling for a playoff spot, keeping George could be in the short-term interest of the franchise as well. Heading into the games on Thursday (December 22), the Pacers are sixth in the Eastern Conference at 15-15.

The Paul George trade rumors are easy to understand, as the Pacers haven’t been a true contender in the East since he emerged as a star player. George hasn’t been able to elevate the team in the postseason (yet), despite putting up great numbers on the court. He is having another good season for the Pacers, making it easy for NBA analysts and fans to presume that the team would be open to dealing him and acquiring younger assets.

Paul George Plays Against Hornets
[Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]

Through 23 games this season, George is averaging 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He is shooting much better from the field as well, hitting on 44.8 percent from the field, 38.3 percent from three-point range, and 91.8 percent from the free throw line. It’s easy to assume that George is going to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team again this season.

There is no shortage of teams that would like to acquire an All-Star wing who can put up strong numbers on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. This is one reason why so many Paul George trade rumors have surfaced over the last 24 months. The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Sacramento Kings are just some of the teams that have been linked to the Indiana Pacers.

If Zack Lowe is correct in his report about the current market, then the Indiana Pacers may have never indicated that Paul George was available. In the NBA, when a team struggles to find consistency or win in the playoffs, then trade rumors aren’t far behind. It appears that while the Pacers haven’t found the consistency that fans would like, the front office is still content to keep on its current path. That path includes locking up George in contracts for years to come.

[Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]

The Indiana Pacers will pay George just over $18.1 million for the 2016-17 NBA season, followed by seasons of about $19.5 million and $20.7 million in salary. The final year of his current deal is a player option, but it is expected that the Pacers are approaching a time where they will offer George a long-term maximum contract extension. That new salary would be a big bump in his yearly pay and certainly more than he would make in free agency. The plan would then be to surround him with more talent from free agency and through the NBA Draft.

The problem that the Pacers could come up against, is that with a player option, George could have an eye on hitting free agency and finding out what the highest bidder is willing to pay him. That contract wouldn’t be as much as he could make by staying in Indiana, but he has always been very quiet about his long-term aspirations and intentions. If the Indiana Pacers find that the key player on the roster isn’t receptive to a contract extension, then fans should expect even more Paul George trade rumors than in the past.

[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]