But with the Pacers hovering around .500, would they reconsider building around George? Could they trade him before he opts out in 2018?
I know teams have been calling Indiana, and they’re going to ask about Paul George. And the answer is, “Absolutely, positively no. He is not available. There is no conversation to be had. Don’t even make offers to us. We’re not moving Paul George.”
Wojnarowski adds Indiana is “open for business” with everyone besides George and Myles Turner, the 20-year-old center having a breakout season.
This is probably the correct response by the Pacers. Whether they trade George should depend on what they could get, but it’s hard to imagine them getting a desirable haul.
It’s so hard to acquire an elite player like George, and he’s just 26. Once you get a star of his caliber in his prime, you don’t let him go easily.
The worry is George will bolt as an unrestricted free agent in two years and leave Indiana with nothing. But the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will allow Indiana to offer a huge contract extension if George makes an All-NBA team this year. If George resists, there’s always time to trade him later.
The concern is George not making an All-NBA team this season, which would incentivize him to play out his current contract and shoot for an All-NBA team in 2017-18. Then, he could opt out in 2018 and re-sign for the designated-player rate. But that extra year could sour him on the Pacers or also end without an All-NBA selection, which would limit Indiana’s financial advantages over other teams. By that point, it’d be too late to trade George.
Whether the Pacers should trade George get tricky. But they’re not even close to that point, so keeping him and hoping to avoid a difficult decision altogether seems like the right move.