Larry Bird can tell you over and over again that Paul George isn’t available, but let’s be honest for a quick second…the Indiana Pacers would really be stupid not to let him go if the right offer comes along.
The Boston Celtics have trade assets galore and will always be able to make that “right offer” for almost any player in the league, and George is just the type of guy who can help take the team to a new level.
Bird got a huge win when he took Myles Turner 11th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, the guy is an All-Star in the making. The 20-year old center is currently averaging 15.9 PPG and 7.5 RPG in his second professional season to go along with 2.3 BPG as well but there doesn’t seem to be a window for this team to contend until he’s fully developed, so a star like George is just wasting away on the roster while they wait for Turner to take yet another step.
Danging the Brooklyn Nets draft pick for this upcoming season would should really catch the Pacers attention because they’ll be able to draft another young stud who can come into the league and grow alongside Turner along with any other pieces that the Celtics turn over. Amir Johnson and his $12 million expiring contract will have to be shipped out just to make matching salaries possible while it’s also likely that Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder are sent off to Indiana as well.
Jeff Teague has really taken off with the Pacers this year but he’s also playing in a contract year and he could leave in free agency – which would make Smart an attractive pickup for them – and Crowder would have three years remaining on what is one of the best contracts in the NBA.
Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko can all pitch in and easily fill the minutes that Johnson brought to the table so that’s not a big loss and George would be able to go above and beyond what Crowder did, so really the only loss you’d have to worry about is Smart. Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas would remain the starting back court and Terry Rozier would have the pressure on to step up, but you could also eliminate three guard lineups from your rotation and play guys like Gerald Green and Jaylen Brown more to take some of that added pressure away.
This trade works so well for both sides and Danny Ainge would be very smart to explore it. While Bradley – who is shooting over 40% from beyond the arc – has done a really solid job stepping up as a second scorer this year, but George gives them a bonafide second option while also bringing an elite defensive presence to the table; he was a First Team All-Defense selection in 2015 and has also been Second Team All-Defense twice in his career.