The minute it was announced that Paul George did not make an All-NBA team — meaning the Pacers could not give him a designated player super-max contract extension this summer — it has been assumed by a lot of fans the Pacers have to trade him. Certainly, the sense is that he will walk next summer as a free agent (maybe to the Lakers, but we’ll see), so the Pacers need to get something for him now.
But it’s not that simple. George is a rental who will test the free agent market, and even if teams can convince him to stay they will have to max him out. So how much is a team really going to give up to rent George? Not much, and if all the offers are lowball the Pacers may be better off keeping him, trying to build and improve around him, and hope he makes the All-NBA team next year so they can pay him. Put simply, George may well be a Pacer next season, at least at the start.
George seems to think that is likely, and he said all the right things again about wanting to win with the Pacers when speaking to Nate Taylor of the Indy Star.
That’s George saying all the right things.
It doesn’t change the situation. I don’t doubt George would love to win a title with the Pacers, it’s just hard to see how that happens.
George’s name will come up in trade rumors on draft night — no, Pacers are not doing a George for Kevin Love swap, if the Pacers move George they want to rebuild, and Love is the opposite of that (they will want young players and picks). Along those same lines, no — the Lakers are not trading the No. 2 pick for George, they’re not that stupid or desperate for a star. Again, expect the offers to be low. Teams are going to try and steal him, and Pritchard and the Pacers will wait for a good one.
I would not be shocked to see George start the season as a Pacer. Whether he ends it as one is another story.