The Indiana Pacers are getting out of the Paul George business. Well, more accurately, he told them he’s getting out of the Pacers business in the summer of 2018, so Indiana is now hunting around looking for trade partners to get something before he walks.
Most of the speculation has focused on Cleveland going after him to pair with LeBron James, or the Lakers making a move to get him because he wants to come there as a free agent in 2018 anyway.
Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard isn’t limiting himself — he’s going to talk to 29 other teams, and the one with the best offer wins. That simple. It’s all bottom line. Pritchard doesn’t care where George wants to go, stuck in a bad situation the Pacers are gong to get the best deal they can and do it quickly.
That best deal may not come from Cleveland or Los Angeles, there may be a team that thinks with a year in their culture they can win him over the long term and are willing to pay a little more for the opportunity — although probably not as much as the Pacers are asking.
Still, let’s take a closer look at the two teams most rumored.
The Lakers have little incentive to put together a deal that gives up something of value because George’s people have already let it be known he plans to go there as a free agent next summer. Why spend now?
The one reason for the Lakers to get involved — fear that George will sign somewhere like Cleveland, like it, and decide to stay. Even with that risk, the Lakers don’t want to give up much — they could try to dump one of the bad Luol Deng/Timofey Mozgov contracts, plus throw in someone they see fitting long term (such as Julius Randle), but the Lakers don’t have picks to throw around, they don’t have a tradable first rounder until 2020.
It makes sense for Cleveland to try and get in the sweepstakes — they need an upgrade, and better play on the wings, to compete with Golden State. The Cavs are as win now as it gets and should go all in here. They may, and they have no concern about just renting George, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
The Cavs are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland, a source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN. Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal.
The bigger question for the Cavaliers: What can they give up that Indiana wants? They don’t have young players on the bench the rebuilding Pacers want, and it’s years befoe Cleveland has picks they can send out. They also are not trading away Kyrie Irving.
The name that comes up? Kevin Love. First off, this is not fair to Love who has worked hard and improved his game each year he has been in Cleveland — and he played hard and as well as could be expected in the Finals. The problem is, the Warriors are a beast, one that Love does not match up well against. The questions are, would the Cavs deal Love, and would Indy think Love and filler works for them? Trade George and the Pacers are in rebuilding mode, they would need to flip Love to get the kind of young player and picks needed to get on that path.
If another team comes with a better offer, the Pacers will take it. They are trying to make the best of a terrible situation, they don’t care where the offer comes from. They may even be a little patient, but the market for a rent-a-player is never all that high.