One situation that typically generates NBA trade rumors is when a superstar player is part of a losing team. Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George has been the subject of recent rumor mill discussion for that reason. George has attained superstar status as one of the top two-way players in basketball, but despite his heroics, the Pacers are struggling to find their way as they are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 16-18 record.
The team that has been mentioned most often as a possible suitor for George has been the Boston Celtics. Sportsrageous states that Paul George and combo guard Monta Ellis could be dealt to the Celtics for a package that includes several players and draft choices that Indiana would receive in return. According to iSports Times, Boston is attempting to pry George away from the Pacers with a combination of players and draft picks that would include small forward Jae Crowder and power forward Amir Johnson.
Current NBA trade rumors are making their way around the internet that the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers may be engaged in trade talks. The specifics of this rumored proposal are as follows: Paul George and Monta Ellis would become members of the Celtics. In exchange, the Pacers would acquire Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, point guard Marcus Smart and both of the Brooklyn Nets' first-round picks (2017 and 2018) that are presently the property of the Celtics.
Paul George has one year left on his contract after this season, with a player option for 2018-19. The prevailing theory is that if Indiana can't build a winning team around Paul George by next season, he will probably opt out of his deal in order to move to a contending club. If Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird isn't confident that he can keep George after the 2017-18 campaign, would he consider moving him for a huge return such as the one that Boston is rumored to be offering?
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Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has stated that he would like to add another star player to the roster, and Paul George would certainly fit that description. However, the proposal that is being promoted in this NBA trade rumor would be an expensive one -- not only in terms of the players Boston would be sending out, but giving Indiana the Brooklyn Nets' first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 would be a lot to give up. The Nets are viewed as one of the worst teams in the NBA, and their 8-24 record so far this season confirms that thought. Neither pick is protected, so the odds seem good that both of those first-round draft choices will be at or near the top of the draft.
When breaking down this rumored trade scenario, there are two significant problems with it. Larry Bird is known to be very committed to Paul George, and Bird also has the reputation as someone who is very stubborn when he takes a stance on a player or a team issue. ESPN has reported that Larry Bird is not returning any of the calls he is getting regarding Paul George's availability; Bird feels that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that the league and players just agreed upon will give him a large advantage over other teams. Since the Pacers will be allowed to offer George a great deal more money and number of years than any other club, Bird feels that he can entice George to remain in Indiana.
When analyzing NBA trade rumors, it is wise to run the particulars through the ESPN NBA Trade Machine to verify that the transaction would be allowed by the NBA. In this case, the rumored deal fails the test due to the Celtics receiving too much incoming salary (about $2 million per season). The Pacers' resistance to dealing Paul George would be a huge obstacle in getting this trade done, but the fact that this hypothetical swap doesn't follow NBA trade and salary cap rules means that it simply can't happen.
[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]