Paul George made it official, he wants out of Indianapolis. He wants to head back home to Southern California and play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Pacers new general manager Kevin Pritchard has a huge issue on his mind. Do they let him play next season, hope he makes the All-NBA team, so they could offer him much more money than any other team, or do they trade him now for some picks and/or another established star?
In 2010, Pritchard lost his job in Portland for a few dumb moves (and drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant). I’m sure he assumed a day when he needs to figure out the George problem would come, but probably didn’t think the news of George wanting out of town would leak before the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Pacers have touched base with every team in the NBA. They want to move George as soon as possible, they will have an idea if they need to bring in more draft entrants in for workouts more picks in this year’s draft.
There has already been one team that has leaked their interest in Paul George, the Cleveland Cavaliers. They hope if he gets a taste of playing with LeBron James, he won’t want to play with the Lakers after next season. The problem is that the Cavs don’t have a ton of young players or picks, so a package would probably be Kevin Love and a few late-first round picks.
Let’s go through some other teams that could offer the most and are willing to risk losing him after one season with the team.
Philadelphia 76ers – They wanted George before the trade deadline last season and probably offered the Pacers more than they can offer right now. They traded the Celtics for the #1 pick and gave up quite a bit. The Pacers could still get a young player and future picks if the Sixers wanted George.
Denver Nuggets – Denver was another team that offered up the moon for George at the trade deadline last season. I don’t see them offering anything close to what a few other teams could offer. They basically just have picks to offer. Unfortunately, they would have had two first-round picks if they didn’t trade one with Jusuf Nurkic to Portland.
Boston Celtics – The Celtics were the third team that offered a ton of young players for George late last season. The Celtics gained another future draft pick when they traded down just two spots. I think Boston is the front-runner for George if they package a few picks and Jaylen Brown.
Los Angeles Clippers – I think they are the dark horse here. I’m sure George wants to play for the Lakers, cause he grew up as a fan. If he just wants to play in Los Angeles, the Clippers could risk losing him across hallway to the Lakers. The Clippers don’t have much youth to offer, but possible Blake Griffin and a whole bunch of future picks. It would almost be a guarantee to re-sign Chris Paul…and possible lure another big free agent to challenge Golden State.
Phoenix Suns – They have a ton of backcourt youth, which the Pacers lack at the moment. I could see them trading the #4th and #32 picks in this year’s draft and maybe Devin Booker and/or Marquese Chriss. It’s a lot to give up, but the Suns need some experienced small forwards.
Los Angeles Lakers – This is the destination that makes the most sense. They pretty much got a guarantee that they are getting Paul George next season. Unfortunately, they face a pretty large issue. They would need to clear around $20 million so they can offer George a max contract. They could trade the Pacers next year’s first round pick, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, which has fallen out of favor. They could kill two birds with one stone. They may need to let Randle go anyway if they want to make room for George…and Russell is one more mess up away from being dumped somewhere.
If I wanted to ranks these suggestions in order of them actually happening, I would list them as:
- Boston Celtics
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Phoenix Suns
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.