Three Straight-Up Paul George Trades That Make Sense
Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George recently expressed his desire to leave the Pacer organization next summer to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
Now scrambling to get something in return for George, Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana front office are making the rounds, calling to see what they can get in exchange for a “rental year” from one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
Usually when a superstar player is traded, teams swap multiple players and picks in what is often tagged a “blockbuster”.
Per TNT’s David Aldridge, the Pacers are asking for two first round picks and a starting caliber player.
Given that whatever team receives George will likely only have him for a year, this price seems a bit high. But ultimately it depends on what resources are available.
Here are 3 potential trade scenarios for Indiana:
1. Cleveland Expands the Kingdom
CLE receives: Paul George
IND receives: Kevin Love
Not many teams would be willing and able to give up an All-Star for the short-term services of George, but Cleveland might be.
Amid news of GM David Griffin and the Cavaliers parting ways, All-Star forward Kevin Love still remains heavily in trade talks as he has for the better part of a year.
There are many reasons the Cavaliers should trade Love and there are many reasons they shouldn’t. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that the only team Cleveland can’t beat in an NBA playoff series is the “juggernaut out West” and the only way to compete with them is to increase athleticism, defensive versatility and three point shooting, all of which George brings to the table, more so than Love. Moreover, LeBron is rumored to have interest in playing in LA after 2018, so the Cavs need to win now.
Love is set to make $22.6 million next year and $24.1 million the following year with a $25.5 million player option for 2019–20.
Cleveland can’t trade their 2018 or 2020 first round picks due to the Ted Stepien rule and the fact that they’ve already coughed up their 2017 and 2019 firsts.
In terms of current talent and production, this is the best offer Indiana could get, most likely. Love and Turner give the Pacers a dangerously skilled front-court that keeps Indy in the playoff hunt in the short-term while the front office figures out how to re-tool the rest of the roster.
2. Rip City Big Three
POR receives: Paul George
IND receives: Evan Turner, 2017 & 2018 1st Rd. Picks
Portland is in a tough spot. Behind Cleveland, the Trail-Blazers have the most locked-up payrolls in the NBA. The problem is, unlike Cleveland, they aren’t good enough to compete for championships with their current roster.
Trading for George could be a good way to move up the ladder in the Western Conference while also shedding salary.
As Nate Duncan pointed out, the George rumors could all be a ploy to lower his asking price and land on a better team.
While this is unlikely, we can’t rule out the possibility that George will change his mind if he winds up on a team that can compete with the best of them. A starting lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, George, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Jusuf Nurkic is scary offensively, and George gives them the defensive minded wing that they’ve lacked the past two years.
The two deals that look the worst right now for Portland are the Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner contracts.
Crabbe is making roughly $18.5 million per year for the next three years and has shown zero improvement since signing the massive deal. Turner, on the other hand, is set to make roughly $17.6 million a year for three more years and has more to offer. As a 2 or 3, Turner can handle the ball and create for himself or others. For a team who has uncertainty at the point guard position, Indiana will need shot creation to come from other positions.
Additionally, the Blazers have an abundance of first round draft picks in the coming years, so handing over a couple of those isn’t too much to ask.
3. Stan Van Shakes up the East
DET receives: Paul George
IND receives: Reggie Jackson, 2017 1st Rd. Pick
Detroit, like Portland, has a fairly cramped payroll. For a team out of the playoffs in the East, the Pistons need to improve their roster but don’t have a whole lot of flexibility.
This trade satisfies two needs for Detroit: the need for more scoring and defense on the wing, and the need to dump a large contract.
Jackson is not a bad point guard, he just had a bad season last year. A change of scenery could really help him and with Jeff Teague not under contract, the Pacers don’t have a point guard for next season.
Additionally, Detroit is picking in the lottery this year, giving Indiana another player to help with the rebuild.
Bringing in George could act as a jolt of energy to a Detroit team that underperformed in the 2016–17 season. Assuming the Pistons re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Pistons could form a formidable lineup that challenges the East’s top tier.