The deafening noise around Paul George being traded by the Indiana Pacers quieted down immediately once the NBA Draft concluded, the Pacers still facing a dilemma with the looming departure of their superstar wing with his heart set on Los Angeles.
It seems the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t given up their pursuit of George, discussing a three-team trade involving the Denver Nuggets with Kevin Love as the piece going to Denver, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes.
Stein and Haynes report that Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay are players Denver could be willing to include in what would be a blockbuster three-way trade with Indiana and Cleveland.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard said he was “confident” the team could find the right deal for George even if it didn’t happen on draft night, and that he could “pull the trigger” on a trade at any time with the options available. It appears teams have taken stock of how things look with the new class of rookies in place and are back on the George trail with less than a week until free agency begins.
The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly had a standing offer of picks No. 27 and 28, along with either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle, but Indiana stood pat through the 60 names that were called. Los Angeles used those late first round picks to select Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant.
Little has been reported on the Lakers pursuit of George since Thursday, but ESPN indicates the Lakers are “determined” to continue making their own run at bringing PG home:
Although no trade for George came to fruition last week, sources say that both the Rockets and the Lakers remain determined to keep pushing for their own George deals. It's widely believed that the Celtics, meanwhile, want to sign a marquee free agent this summer such as Utah's Gordon Hayward and then trade for George.
There are still numerous teams interested in George, and the Pacers are taking their time instead of making a hasty move. Even if Indiana wants to trade him before the season starts, there’s plenty of time until then and teams are still trying to piece together their best offers.
Waiting to see how free agency plays out could also effect what kind of offers are available to Indiana, potentially stretching out the timetable even longer if a George trade is coming this offseason.
The Lakers have more than enough pieces to outbid what nearly any team will offer in exchange to Indiana, having the safety net of the superstar wanting the Lakers to be his destination next summer as a free agent. Cleveland remains interested because the franchise believes a championship run with LeBron James could be enough to stick with the Cavaliers (via ESPN):
The Nuggets were recruited into the talks to furnish the Pacers with the combination of promising young players and draft picks they are seeking before consenting to surrender George, whose agent, Aaron Mintz, informed Indiana management just over a week ago that George has no intention of staying with the club beyond the expiration of his current contract in June 2018.
The three teams ultimately could not agree to a final trade construction in time to complete a deal on draft night Thursday, but sources say the Cavaliers won't abandon their trade pursuit of George, believing that acquiring the 27-year-old and George potentially winning a championship next season alongside LeBron James is the one scenario that could convince the two-way menace to abandon his well-chronicled desire to join the Los Angeles Lakers as soon as possible.
Los Angeles began orchestrating a path to two superstars in the summer of 2018 when they attached Timofey Mozgov’s massive contract to D’Angelo Russell, banking on George’s homecoming almost as a bird in the hand.
Waiting to sign him as a free agent instead of having to overpay while teams like the Cavaliers try to wheel and deal to make something attractive enough may ultimately be the best move for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. They’ve already sacrified one of their young assets to move a step closer to George, leaving them less margin for error in their management of the roster.