Anderson: In a trade Pacers can’t win, trading Paul George to Celtics makes most sense
Give Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard credit: He’s playing the game as hard as he possibly can. But it’s a game that seems pointless once you get beyond its flimsy surface. It actually feels somewhat similar to the game his Pacers team tried to play in their futile attempt to give the Cavs a challenge in the first round this past spring. It looked cool for a minute, sure, but we all knew how it was going to end.
Just like we all should how his selling of Indiana superstar Paul George is going to ultimately end.
Or how it should end, anyways, if Pritchard is serious about maximizing his return on a George trade between now and the 2018 trade deadline — and that’s with a trade with the Celtics.
It’s known to everybody in the NBA world — including the Celtics — that George, who has probably always had these grand summer 2018 plans up his left basketball sleeve, is a Pacers goner this time next year. He’s told the Pacers as much, and then somebody within his camp decided to tell the aforementioned NBA world as much. All-world talent or not, spilling the beans to ESPN was an absolutely devastating blow to his trade value, and Pritchard described the move as just that, labeling it as a ‘gut-punch’ to his team. It essentially solidified the idea that the best offer that was going to be thrown their way probably became what would normally be considered your second, third, or maybe even fourth-best available offer under normal circumstances.
In a game of chicken with a predetermined loser, teams can call Pritchard’s bluff before he can call theirs.
And while the Pacers have interest in George from around the league, it should be considered a fact that that nobody else in the George hunt can offer Pritchard’s Pacers what the Celtics can.
Not the Rockets, a team that just sold off a bunch of assets to facilitate the Chris Paul trade. Not the Cavaliers, whose front office picture remains a complete mess and without much to offer outside of their top two talents in Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, neither of whom would be involved in such a trade. Not even the rebuilding Lakers, given their prior movement of a first-round pick now owned by either the Celtics or 76ers and with the idea that George would come in to support that young core, not subtract from it, could make a serious push without limiting the ceiling of a core they’ve slumped so hard to get.
That, in turn, explains why Pritchard, who has made a straight-up ludicrous initial demand from the Celtics, wants so much from Boston.
But that ransom note comes with the understanding, even if it not openly admitted just yet, that Boston’s lowered offers are probably still going to be better than legitimate offers from those other teams.
In trade talks with the Celtics since the NBA Draft (talks that fizzled because of a third team), the Boston Herald reported that the Pacers have demanded that the C’s send two starters (likely Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) along with two first-round draft picks — both the Brooklyn and L.A. picks in 2018 — in a deal the 27-year-old George.
That’s laughable on its own. And then you remember that testing the market in 2018 remains a likelihood, if not an inevitability, if he’s moved without an extension in place.
That’s also without asking yourself why would the Celtics even bother saying yes to any sort of first offer? The first offer always lacks desperation. Pritchard, by the way, will only become more desperate the longer George wears a Pacers uniform next season, as it’s probably akin to knowing your exact time of death. The first offer has also never once failed to shoot for the moon. And Celtics president Danny Ainge, who has stockpiled assets since the moment Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce left via that now infamous trade to the Nets, has said no to about a dozen of those deals over that span and has straight-up refused to break. On far better contracts and situations, too.
This, even if the C’s are able to land Gordon Hayward on a max deal this summer as the first part of their summer superteam plan, and perhaps especially if they’re able to land Hayward, will not be an exception.
This, like everything else in these George rumors, is not considered a secret.
And here’s another not-so-secret fact: it’s almost as if a bad deal from the Celtics is still a pretty good deal for the Pacers.
In a hypothetical George-to-Boston deal, the Pacers would without question acquire Crowder and one of Bradley or Marcus Smart. Without an extension in place, they may be able to pry that Lakers pick out of Ainge’s arsenal if the Celtics get desperate enough (or, as it’s also known: not happening). Without an extension set in stone, however, the Celtics will try to dangle some of the other picks they have in their treasure chest, such as their future (protected) firsts from the Clippers and Grizzlies. They would not, however, offer the Brooklyn pick, which has a legitimate chance to be the No. 1 pick next year given how straight-up dreadful the Nets are and will continue to be, nor would the Pacers get that pick. I think that’s pretty much a guarantee. It’s hard to imagine the C’s parting with that Brooklyn pick even with an extension in place, which seems crazy at first glance, but then you realize the sickening number of other picks that they have.
Pritchard has also been openly peddling the idea that a George trade does not signify the start of a rebuild in Indiana. If that’s still something he truly believes, he would do his part to acquire real pieces — like the two-way Bradley and physical Crowder, two players that have grown into legitimate starters on what’s become a capable Celtics starting five — over cap fill-ins and spare parts from teams like the Cavs and Rockets. Those players — expendable to the Celtics only in the event that they acquire George and/or Hayward — would either become part of what the Pacers are doing to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference, or could later be used as viable trade chips to load up on assets much like the Celtics did when they moved on from their star players just a few years back.
It would certainly be Pritchard’s best play to maximize his return on George.
Which, in a game he’ll undoubtedly lose despite the bold face he’s leaned in with, should be all that’s on his mind.
Full article @ Anderson: In a trade Pacers can’t win, trading Paul George to Celtics makes most sense
Source: GreenStreet Blog