This is going to shock you, so we advise sitting down to ready this. Larry Bird, President of Basketball Operations with the Indiana Pacers is denying having had serious trade discussions with another executive (in this case, Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers) about his superstar, Paul George.
George will be a free agent in 2018, so the line of thinking with analysis of his situation in Indiana is that Bird will opt for trading George so as to get something in return before that free agency occurs.
Last month, the trade deadline came and went, leaving George still in Indiana where has stated multiple times he would like to stay in the hopes of winning a title. If no such contention seems on the horizon, multiple reports have George winding up in Los Angeles to play for his hometown Lakers.
When Magic was hired just two days before the trade deadline, Bird called to congratulate his long-time friend on the new gig. Two days was nowhere near enough time to get a deal worked out, so they just stuck to the initial salutations.
Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times had the story — and the full article about their relationship is well worth your time.
“I wasn’t motivated to move Paul George at the deadline,” Bird said. “I can’t remember if it was even brought up or not. I don’t think it was. It’s all fake news anyway. You know that. Somebody’s gonna start it and [it] just was a snowball effect. [The phone call] was not about Paul George.”
Again, this is to be expected both because if he said anything else, his relationship with a superstar trying to get his team into the playoffs would probably erode completely and because of the amount of time Bird and Magic had to try to get a deal done. It simply wasn’t worth trying at that time, one would imagine.
He did add an interesting note about what his friendship with Johnson might mean for future dealings, though.
“I’ve been here for, I don’t know how many years, 12, 13, and I haven’t made a deal with Danny Ainge yet,” Bird said. “That should tell you something. I’ve always been closer with Danny, because I played with him for all them years, than Earvin.
“Talked to Danny about a lot of trades, but never did one. I just feel it’s gotta be a fair deal for both sides and we never got there. Maybe he thought it was fair, but I didn’t think so.”
These statements relate back to whether Bird can separate friendship from what he has to do for the Pacers. No solid will be done so long as Bird has this commitment to Indiana to live up to, regardless of whoever is on the other end of the line.
Should Lakers keep their pick in June, these talks can become more serious. Until then, fans will have to get their fix of the Magic/Bird rivalry on youtube and not via some battle of the wits in a hypothetical trade negotiation.