ESPN is reporting that the Pacers, Cavaliers, and Nuggets are discussing a trade that would send Paul George to Cleveland, Kevin Love to Denver, and players and draft assets to the Pacers. Something similar has been brewing since before the draft but the sides have yet to find a deal that meets all sides.
This is notable to the Celtics because it was also reported on draft night that the Celtics were in “serious” discussions with the Pacers about Paul George.
In fact, a few days ago, Adam Kaufman of WBZ News Radio and CBS Boston reported a whopper of a rumor. He reported that the Celtics were hoping to first sign Gordon Hayward, then ALSO trade for Paul George.
Take this FWIW: Hearing #Celtics in position to deal 4 George with 3-yr ext in place, but will depend on signing Hayward 1st. Lotsa dominos.— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) June 23, 2017
ESPN’s report tonight passed along that rumor as well, saying “It's widely believed that the Celtics, meanwhile, want to sign a marquee free agent this summer, such as Utah's Gordon Hayward, and trade for George.”
There’s a lot to unpack there, so let’s start with the obvious. If the Celtics are serious about getting George, they just got some serious competition from the Cavs. The thinking there must be that they may only have one more shot to convince LeBron James to stay so they need to find a better mix of players around him. Swapping out Love for George may or may not accomplish that goal, but I can at least see the rationale.
Can the Nuggets come up with enough assets to lure the Pacers into giving up George? Will the Celtics jump back into the fray and up their initial offers? Or will the Celtics hold out for free agency (perhaps for timing purposes or perhaps to see what better options present themselves) and miss out on their opportunity to land George?
The undercurrent to any interest in George indicates that teams are at least hopeful that he’ll fall in love with his new team and forget about his designs of skipping to Los Angeles next summer. Ironically, if he goes to the Cavs, both LeBron and George could choose to go to L.A. together and the Cavs would be left with a huge rebuilding effort (perhaps part of the rationale for potentially offloading Love’s deal in the process).
As for the Celtics rumored master plan of Hayward AND George, let’s just say that I’d tip my hat to them if they pulled it off, but there are some serious complications and long term tax concerns to figure out if it takes place. I’ll happily direct you to Ryan Bernardoni for the gory details.
To me, George might more likely be a backup plan if Hayward and/or Griffin if neither decides to sign in Boston. Getting George would require giving up assets and signing a free agent doesn’t. However, timing is everything and windows of opportunity don’t always stay open as long as you’d like them to.
The Pacers are clearly trying to get the most leverage back that they can in these negotiations. As early as February they might have been able to get 2 Nets picks from the Celtics in exchange for George, and now they have felt the “gut punch” of his drop in value. Leaking out that they’ve got suitors in the Cavs and Celtics is a good way to make sure that all the bidders come up with their best offers. We’ll see if this gets resolved soon or if it drags into the free agency period (starting in July).