Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors have included Paul George for a while now, but will the Indiana Pacers really trade him during the NBA offseason? While there have been a lot of NBA trade rumors suggesting that George has played his last game in Indiana, it still seems highly unlikely that he could end up in Oregon. The reasoning is that Portland would have to put together a package of players and draft picks that might make any trade extremely cost prohibitive.
Paul George's contract still has two years left on it, though the second season is a player option. The All-Star small forward stands to make about $19.5 million in the 2017-18 NBA season and then has the option to earn roughly $20.7 million for the Pacers during the 2018-19 NBA season. There isn't a lot of incentive for George to play out the contract because he could get a lot more money in free agency. He could also simply opt out to get a huge pay raise from the Pacers to remain with the team.
Addressing the Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors, many fans of the team have taken to social media to post scenarios where the team could land Paul George in a blockbuster deal. It hasn't helped that some NBA analysts have listed Portland as a good destination, primarily because on paper, George looks really good in a lineup that also includes Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. That trio could certainly put up a lot of points and cause a lot of damage in the Western Conference if the team could just fill out the starting roster with good role players.
One of the inherent problems with any Blazers trade is that the team would have to send salary back to any team giving up a star player. Since the Blazers are already over the salary cap for next season, the team would have to deal matching salaries for any players who are acquired via trade. Currently, the Blazers are on the hook for just over $137 million in salaries for the 2017-18 NBA season, putting the payroll as one of the highest in the entire league. Since George is slated to earn $19.5 million next year, the Blazers would have to send out at least that much in salaries.
This is where Blazers fans get a little overconfident in the assets that the team could use. There have been a high number of real Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors about their three first-round draft picks, but since the team doesn't have a lottery selection, the picks lose a bit of value in any transaction. Those three first-round picks might not be enough to land George, nor would including players like Meyers Leonard or Evan Turner. In an ideal world, the team could deal Turner and picks for George, but that's not something that would excite the Indiana Pacers.
Paul George's stats show why he is one of the best players in the NBA. During the 2016-17 NBA season, George played in 75 games for the Indiana Pacers, averaging 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He also shot 46.1 percent from the field, taking advantage of every opportunity he was given on offense. If the NBA trade rumors are true about the Pacers dealing the All-Star, then a new franchise is going to love seeing those numbers on a nightly basis.
Back to the Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors, there are indeed scenarios where the Indiana Pacers might have a lot of interest in completing a deal. If the Blazers offered up either point guard Damian Lillard or shooting guard CJ McCollum while also including a first-round draft pick, the Pacers might just part with Paul George. The trade works well on paper, but it isn't really a deal that the fans of Rip City would enjoy taking place. It also wouldn't help the Blazers take that next step toward contending in the Western Conference.
While it's certainly exciting for Blazers fans to dream about the team acquiring Paul George this offseason, the franchise simply doesn't have the right assets to make a palatable deal. Could this be where the Blazers match up well in Carmelo Anthony trade rumors instead? Would Anthony waive his no-trade clause just to play for a different team? Could a veteran like Anthony actually work well with the Blazers and would New York Knicks president Phil Jackson deal him at a discount?
A stark reality is that the Blazers have a better shot at acquiring Anthony than a much younger George. Those facts aren't going to quiet the Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors, though, as fans seek discussion topics during the long NBA offseason.
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