Paul George has made it clear that he’s going to become a free agent after next season. If the Pacers know Paul George is going to leave, why is he still on the roster? It’s easy to make the argument that the Pacers haven’t found the right deal yet. I understand that they want to make sure they get their players or picks worth for him. My concern with him still being on the roster, is what they might lose out on if they hold on to him for so long.
What could they lose out on you ask?
1. Draft Picks: Trading Paul George would almost certainly result in some sort of draft pick. The longer they hold on to Paul George, the more likely it is they won’t get picks for him. At least not the picks they want. I think they’ll lose leverage with teams the longer they hold on to him. The further they get into the season, the more desperate they’ll be to trade him. Letting him go in free agency means they’ll get nothing, which means they’ll look for the first trade partner who offers them just about anything.
2. Their Future: To go right along with my last point, if the Pacers don’t trade Paul George, they’ll likely be a playoff team, which will result in them having a lower draft pick. The chances of them getting another franchise player to build around will be much lower. Trading Paul George now would allow them to almost ensure a high draft pick in next year’s draft. Whether it’s their own pick or a pick from the trade partner, it doesn’t matter. Trading George means high draft pick. It also means more draft picks, which could be used to make a move for another star player.
3. Better Players: If the Pacers made a trade with the Cavs, they’d most likely end up with Kevin Love. If I’m the Pacers, I’ll take Kevin Love over nothing all day long. If they made a trade with the Celtics, maybe they end up with a young, high potential player like Jayson Tatum. Better than nothing. Maybe they make a trade with the Lakers and get a player like Julius Randle. Still better than nothing. You might be thinking that this contradicts my last point about having better draft picks, but remember when Kevin Love was in Minnesota? He never led them to the playoffs as their star player. His team was at the bottom of the league every year. Jayson Tatum could be a star later, but he’s not right now. Anyone the Pacers get for Paul George, won’t be enough to keep them relevant in the conference. What they will get however, are solid players who can help them build the franchise back up.
Sooner Rather Than Later
Trade Paul George now and get better draft picks, better players, and a brighter future? Or don’t trade him either for a while or not at all and get nothing? The first option sounds much better to me. I can see winning situations much sooner if the Pacers trade Paul George now. If they don’t trade him, I don’t see any within sight. The Pacers holding out for the right deal, from the right team, at the right time, could come back to bite them. I fear this could turn into another Chicago Bulls situation. Chicago could have traded with the Celtics and received a top three draft pick, and maybe some nice additional players. They could have traded with the Cavs, getting Kevin Love in return. I feel like the Bulls could have got something better for Jimmy Butler than what they got. The trade to the Timberwolves happened because they waited. They lost their leverage. The Pacers are now waiting to trade Paul George, and I fear things are going to get worse for them the longer they wait.