The Celtics were in discussions with the Indiana Pacers at the trade deadline to acquire Paul George but were not able to come to an agreement at the time. The Pacers were asking for more than Danny Ainge was willing to give up. Perhaps things have changed.
All-Star forward Paul George has informed the Indiana Pacers that he plans to become a free agent in the summer of 2018 and will leave the franchise – preferably for the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told The Vertical.
George hasn’t requested a trade before he can opt out of his 2018-19 contract, but did have his agent, Aaron Mintz, tell new Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard that he wanted to be forthright on his plans and spare the franchise any confusion about his intentions, league sources told The Vertical.
That news considerably limits the Pacers bargaining position. They can either hold onto him and lose him for nothing next year, acquiesce and trade him to the Lakers, or attempt to drum up some kind of bidding war between teams that run the risk of spending assets only to rent him for a year.
So should the Celtics get in on the mix? Not at the cost of the 3rd pick. Nor should they consider moving the 2018 Nets pick or the protected Lakers pick. Beyond that, however, I think they’d be willing to offer up a couple of lower picks and perhaps some players to make the salaries work.
The idea would be to sell Paul George on the city of Boston, the history of the Celtics, the chance to play for Brad Stevens, and most of all the opportunity to compete for titles by helping make the Celtics into a legit contender.
“As I told [now former Pacers personnel boss] Larry [Bird], I always want to play on a winning team,” George told ESPN Radio during All-Star Weekend. “I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it [all]. That’s important. Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.”
In addition, if they traded for him, the Celtics would hold his Bird rights and thus the opportunity to sign him for the most money next summer.
There are few other teams out there with both the assets to acquire George and the allure to convince him to stay in a contending situation. That’s just the kind of market a gambler and value hunter like Danny Ainge likes to operate in.
Rather than coughing up major trade chips to pry away Jimmy Butler from the Bulls, perhaps the Celtics can swoop in and pick themselves up a Rent-to-Own superstar like Paul George.