Last Updated: 2017-06-19
Over the weekend, Paul George let it be known that his time with the Indiana Pacers is dwindling. As a result of George’s desire to play with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pacers have a decision to make soon. George will opt out of his contract in 2018. That move will clear a way for him to join the Lakers. He will be an unrestricted free agent.
As soon as George revealed his intentions, the trade rumors revved back up. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, the Pacers reached out to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Conventional wisdom believes that George would be traded for Kevin Love in a deal. However, that’s not a deal that the Pacers should ever be interested in.
It’s one thing to lose George in the offseason. It’s a completely different thing to give George to a conference rival next season. General manager Kevin Pritchard is scouring the league for a great deal. Sorry, but the Cavaliers don’t have the assets for a George-Love trade.
Furthermore, if the Pacers have to start over then so be it. George averaged a career high 23.7 points per game in 2017. He also averaged 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists for the Pacers. Despite breaking his leg after the 2013-14 season, George has bounced back to past two years to reclaim his all-star form. He started all 75 games he appeared in last season. In other words, George is back.
However, the Pacers only produced a (42-40) record. They underachieved throughout the season. As a result, the Pacers earned the No. 7 seed and faced the Cavaliers in the first round. They lost in a four game sweep, but clearly showed to be the Cavaliers’ toughest challenge in the eastern conference.
There are more challenges to a trade with George. He won’t necessarily commit to a long-term deal with the Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, the Celtics have quite a few player and trade assets that they won’t part with unless George commits. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are fine with renting him for a season. They did it with Love for a season. Then, Love signed a multi-year deal with the Cavaliers in 2015. The Cavaliers are betting on the same culture to lure George into a commitment into the future.
The Los Angeles Lakers could also be interested in trading for George. However, since he wants to join the organization in the future, they shouldn’t trade anybody. That leaves the Pacers with few options.
Their best option is to let the season play out. On paper, the Pacers should be a top 4 team in the eastern conference. They have the talent to challenge for the NBA Finals with George in the lineup. And that may be the move to keep George in the Pacers’ organization.
Otherwise, they can start over next season, while continuing to build through the draft.
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