Indiana Pacers forward Paul George found success in the league shockingly early in his career, when he starred in a surprise success story that saw the Pacers make back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals.
George then faced a major turning point in his career when he suffered a devastating leg injury during a Team USA scrimmage. The star forward’s amazing journey has continued as he has fully recovered from his injury — but the team around him has never been able to rediscover the magic of his early Pacers teams.
Now, with the trade deadline approaching on Thursday and George sounding tentative about his future in Indiana, Larry Bird and the Pacers front office is considering moving George elsewhere if they can’t improve right away, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:
The Indiana Pacers are gauging the trade market on All-Star forward Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.
“The Pacers are working the trade deadline on parallel fronts: Pursuing deals that will bring talent into Indiana to sell George on signing a long-term extension – and soliciting deal offers on George that would signal a rebuild around center Myles Turner, league sources told The Vertical.
“Ultimately, the Pacers will have to evaluate the two paths and make a decision before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. There’s no urgency to make a deal for George, unless the Pacers fear the Boston Celtics could ultimately provide Indiana the best possible package of assets in a deal – and think that option could disappear if Boston makes a deal with Chicago for Jimmy Butler.
“For teams considering a trade for George, here’s the risk: As a free agent in the summer of 2018, he has considered re-signing with Indiana or joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, sources tell The Vertical.”
As always, the Boston Celtics lay at the heart of these trade rumors. They have the best package of assets of any team in the league and the most motivation to make a move. But the Los Angeles Lakers remain an interesting option as well. If they believe George wants to play there in the future, it could make sense to acquire him now. But at the same time, they may as well just wait for his free agency and not give up their assets.
The Pacers have also been attached to trade rumors surrounding Philadelphia 76ers big Jahlil Okafor and Brooklyn Nets big Brook Lopez, presenting a clear alternative for their trade deadline strategy.