Paul George is likely hitting the trade block this summer as the Indiana Pacers try to retool a roster outgoing president Larry Bird screwed up royally. Indiana may not wind up moving George, but the team should get plenty of interest, as the 27-year-old was outstanding in the postseason.
Here’s a look at the teams most likely to overpay to land George this summer.
The Celtics got the No. 1 seed in the East this year but are still not on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ level. That much is clear. Boston does have a ton of assets it could flip for George, and convince him to sign-on long-term to play with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. What Boston would send for George would certainly be worth more than his relative value, but if the franchise wants to compete for titles the cost will be huge.
The Celtics own the Brooklyn Nets’ No. 1 pick this year, which could wind up being No. 1 overall. It’s highly-unlikely GM Danny Ainge would part with that pick if it lands in the top three, but the Celtics still have a lot of ammo to work with.
To secure George, the Celtics could send Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick to Indiana. That’s a steep price but if it means going toe-to-toe with the Cavs, that’s a deal the franchise would have to consider.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook and the Thunder need more to get out of the West. While Russ is the likely NBA MVP, his one-man show isn’t getting OKC to the Finals. I like Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams, but they aren’t the high-dollar running buddies that can get Westbrook a championship.
To get George, the Thunder would have to give up a ton. Oladipo would certainly have to be in the mix, along with Domantas Sabonis, Doug McDermott and some future picks. Again, that’s vastly overpaying for George, but it could be the move that makes the Thunder viable in the West.
Los Angeles Clippers
Doc Rivers and the Clippers are desperate to win now. This scenario assumes the team re-signs both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul this offseason. In fact, to get George, Griffin would have to be part of a sign-and-trade to the Pacers.
Along with Griffin the Clippers would also have to include several future picks, plus Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone. That’s a big-time overpay, but Rivers and the franchise are desperate to make a big move. Or even just make a change.
New York Knicks
Phil Jackson and the Knicks are just as desperate as Doc and the Clips, and Paul George would give Kristaps Porzingis another star to develop with. Any trade would be contingent on George agreeing to sign a long-term deal with the Knicks.
In exchange for George you’d love to say Carmelo Anthony would go to Indiana, but Melo would never waive his no-trade clause to go there. So this deal would have to be made around assets. The Knicks would have to send their first-round picks in 2017 and 2019 to the Pacers, while adding Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Kyle O’Quinn.
That’s a lot to give up, but Jackson would have an All-Star to match with Porzingis and Anthony could finish out the last two years of his contract in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers
Despite rumors to the contrary, I don’t think there’s any chance the Lakers offer young prospects for George. That said, Magic Johnson loves PG13’s game, so maybe he gets itchy to have a star centerpiece and makes a move.
In what would be a terrible deal, I could see the Lakers offering Brandon Ingram plus Jordan Clarkson or D'Angelo Russell and Houston’s 2017 first-round pick which LA acquired in the Lou Williams trade. I think that’s far too much, and firmly believe Los Angeles should wait for George to hit free agency after next season, but there’s certainly a chance they opt to make an offer.