Paul George not making the All-NBA team essentially seals his fate in Indiana – why would the Pacers keep him this summer, and then risk losing him for nothing next summer? If you think Indiana can somehow put together a lineup that could get them to the Eastern Conference Finals next year and Paul George can get named to All-NBA and then would accept the $207 million Supermax offer … that’s a lot of things to fall into place.
Far too much to risk. Especially for a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2014.
No pressure, rookie GM Kevin Pritchard! Just pick up the phone, call Magic Johnson (come on, he’s not calling Rob Pelinka), and ask what he’d want in exchange for George. Magic, the savvy businessman, knows the Pacers have zero leverage, so he might laugh and say, ‘thanks, but we’ll just scoop him up in free agency next year without giving up anything.’
Pritchard’s obvious reply: Ok, gotta run, I’m calling the Celtics and Heat next, have a swell summer.
Which gets back to my headline: D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Nick Young in exchange for Paul George works on the ESPN trade machine. The Lakers would be giving up two cheap, talented players who haven’t even approached their ceiling.
It also doesn’t gut the Lakers. They’d be left with Brandon Ingram (19), Jordan Clarkson (24), and their 2017 first round pick, Lonzo Ball. I don’t think that’s a 42-win team in the West, but that’s before free agency, when suddenly, they’ll be getting meetings with everyone because they now have a capable front office and a big-time star plus a promising teenager in Ingram.
George just turned 27, and they’re not dethroning the Warriors next year, anyway. But you’re building toward 2018-2019 anyway, when Ingram and Ball should be coming into their own, and George is in his prime.
A hypothetical look at the bulk of the Lakers depth chart:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Jordan Clarkson/David Nwaba/Hamidou Diallo
SF: Brandon Ingram/Corey Brewer/Luol Deng
PF: Paul George/Larry Nance
C: Timofey Mozgov/Ivica Zubac
The Pacers save a ton of money losing George, and as a bonus, they don’t have to bring back Jeff Teague, either. Instantly, three of their best players are all under 25-years old. In the East, that’s too young to be a playoff team, and you’ve got to hope two guys like Monta Ellis and Lance Stephenson are good examples for the new guys.
This is what part of Indiana’s depth chart could be like. Feels like 30-35 wins, but with a good nucleus in place:
PG: D’Angelo Russell/Joseph Young
SG: Monta Ellis/Lance Stephenson
SF: Thaddeus Young/Glenn Robinson/Georges Niang
PF: Julius Randle/Kevin Seraphin/Lavoy Allen
C: Myles Turner/Al Jefferson/Rakeem Christmas