Two days from the NBA trade deadline and there is quite a bit of buzz surrounding the Indiana Pacers. SB Nation shares that NBA columnist Peter Vecsey has stated that the Pacers are trying to make a deal for Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. Vecsey talks about a possible trade involving Indiana’s first-round pick in 2017, center Al Jefferson, and combo guard Rodney Stuckey.
If the Pacers are indeed targeting Lopez, the plan would be to move Myles Turner to power forward in order to open a spot in the starting lineup for Lopez. With Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen battling injuries at the power forward position, these moves would solve multiple problems for Indiana and at least on paper, give the team a stronger starting five.
The NBA trade rumors involving the Pacers don’t end there. According to ESPN, Indiana is also talking to the Philadelphia 76ers about a potential deal for center Jahlil Okafor. Okafor and Brook Lopez are both productive offensive players around the basket, and Lopez has even recently added three-point range to his shooting arsenal.
Indiana’s president of basketball operations Larry Bird must feel that he can improve the team by adding a center who can score in the paint, which would allow Myles Turner to play to his strengths by serving as a “stretch four” alongside Okafor or Lopez. It seems clear what Bird’s plan is regarding a possible trade deadline deal, but now we must wait and see if he is able to close on a deal for Brook Lopez or Jahlil Okafor.
FanSided reveals that Larry Bird is not only making trade inquiries, he’s receiving them as well. During the process that resulted in star center DeMarcus Cousins’ relocation to New Orleans, the Pelicans were reportedly also asking what it would take for the team to acquire NBA All-Star small forward Paul George from Indiana. These talks did not get very far, and now that New Orleans has consummated a deal for Cousins, it appears that the likelihood the Pelicans will be able to trade for another star player is very low.
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Larry Bird has made his stance on Paul George very clear: He is not going to trade George unless he absolutely has to, and more than a year out from George’s impending free agency, Bird is nowhere near a point of desperation regarding Paul George. Bird is stubborn when he makes up his mind, and in this case, he is not listening to any trade offers for George. The story of Paul George possibly being dealt is making waves in the NBA rumor mill, but George will still be with the Indiana Pacers when the trade deadline passes on Thursday.
The NBA trade rumor involving Paul George and the New Orleans Pelicans is a minor result that stems from a much larger situation, as described by the Indianapolis Star. Paul George has said he would like to win an NBA Championship in Indiana, but if the Pacers are not on track to become a legitimate contender by the summer of 2018, he will consider joining another franchise.
Regardless of George’s status, Larry Bird wants to win and wants to do so as quickly as possible. However, looking long-term, Bird knows that he has a little over a year to build his team into an Eastern Conference contender, or face the possibility of losing Paul George and beginning a rebuilding phase — and “rebuilding” is generally not a word in Bird’s vocabulary.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Pacers will be able to pay Paul George a great deal more money than any other team, but that may not matter if the team remains stuck in mediocrity 16 months from now. This will be a very intriguing scenario to watch, and step one will take place over the next 48 hours when everyone finds out if the Pacers are able to make any upgrades to their roster before the trade deadline.
[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]