The Paul George era in Indiana is coming to an end. The 27-year-old has reportedly informed the franchise that he intends to become a free agent in 2018 and leave the team, ideally for the Los Angeles Lakers.
That makes an offseason trade involving George all the more likely.
“If a player comes to you and tells you he’s not going to re-sign, it’s a no-brainer. You just can’t let a guy like Paul George walk out the door and not try to get anything in return,” NBA-TV analyst Sam Mitchell said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The problem is Paul George (has to) give you a list of teams that he’s going to consider, and if you’re one of those teams that he’s going to consider, why would you trade for Paul George if you could keep all your assets and then potentially lure him in the summertime? So it’s a tough position for Indiana because Paul George . . . is telling you he’s not going to sign. If you’re on that short list that Paul George is considering, then it’s going to be hard to give up some valuable assets. You want Paul George to help make you a better team. It’s not going to look that attractive to Paul George if you have to trade some very valuable pieces to get him.”
The Pacers have reportedly reached out to Cleveland about a possible trade, but would trading, say, Kevin Love for George make the Cavs better?
“Well, it just makes them different,” Mitchell said. “Kevin Love, he’s a guy that needs LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to be effective. He needs those guys to get him open looks and things of that nature. I’m not saying that he can’t get his shot for himself, but obviously Paul George is more adept at handling the ball and being more creative. I think it makes Cleveland a different team. You now have three guys on the team who can get a shot for themselves or a teammate, and then come playoff time, the more guys that you have that can break their guy down and create opportunities for themselves and other players, the better team you are. I just think it makes them different.”
The Cavs and Warriors have played in three straight NBA Finals and are a safe bet to make it four in a row next June. That means 28 other franchises have a decision to make.
“Which teams are going to fold and try to sit back and wait three, four years down the line before they try and get better, (and which) teams are going to to try to go after Cleveland and Golden State and try to compete with them?” Mitchell asked. “ I think Danny Ainge’s strategy is right. Who’s to say if you wait two or three years from now that you’re going to have a nucleus or the players to still put together a team that’s going to be able to compete. Because once you’re Cleveland and Golden State, the pressure is on now to maintain that level of dominance. You’re not just going to give it up. So it’s going to be interesting to see where a guy like Paul George or Jimmy Butler or Gordon Hayward (ends) up. Because I think that’s where the balance of power is going to tilt – in the free agents, not with the draft.”