Blogtable: Future of Paul George with Indiana Pacers?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Your nameplate says Kevin Pritchard, President and GM, Indiana Pacers. So tell me Mr. Pritchard, how are you going to keep your star player in Indiana? Or do you have other plans?
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David Aldridge: You’re going to check your phone the week of June 19, when it’s revealed whether Paul George (I assume you’re talking about PG13 and not, say, Glenn Robinson III) made one of the three All-NBA teams this season. If George did make one, he’d be eligible for the new Designated Player Exception for vets that’s in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and you could offer him a five-year deal for more than $200 million — $75 million more than any other team in the league could offer him.
If, after saying to him “Paul, we’d like to offer you a five-year deal for more than $200 million,” any words other than “I’ll take it!” come out of his mouth, go back to your phone and start speed-dialing every team in the Western Conference — and, Boston. The Celtics may be a little more aggressive about getting something done with George if their plans/hopes of going after Gordon Hayward have run aground due to Utah’s first-round playoff win over the LA Clippers. Boston may not be willing to part with its 2017 first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets, but if the Celtics are serious about getting George, the 2018 pick they also still have from the Brooklyn heist should be in play, and would still be of great value for you. A package of that 2018 first, another first down the road — and a couple of Boston’s top rotation guys — should get the conversational blood flowing.
Steve Aschburner: This sounds like a reporter’s question, so I’ll answer accordingly: “We’re going to include Paul George – as our MVP, as the player who will bring the Larry O’Brien trophy to the Hoosier State – in all our organizational decisions and sell him on our vision of surrounding him with the best talent available…” Now, can we talk? I don’t see how we can deter George from getting to the Lakers sooner or later. So, in honor of my friend Larry Bird and his storied rivalry with Magic Johnson, I’m going to try to extract as many assets as possible from the Lakers’ new basketball boss if he wants to welcome George to L.A. this summer or at any point before the February trading deadline. Reality is reality.
Fran Blinebury: No matter whose name is on the door, I don’t believe Paul George plans to remain in Indy and that’s a big part of why Larry Bird left the job. I’m not waiting to prolong the inevitable. So I’m packing George up and trying to get the best package of young players and draft picks that I can to build around. Is that the Lakers? Could be. George gets to go home and maybe the next edition of the Pacers starts with Julius Randle.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I’d better have other plans. The real concern is that whether Paul George stays or not is out of my hands. It’s his call. There isn’t much I can do other than continue to show him we are committed to winning now and that Indy is the best place to build a future. If he insists on leaving, and maybe to a team that’s far behind us in trying to reach a title at that, I don’t have much of a counter.
Shaun Powell: I have other plans. This is the right time to begin a rebuilding plan because I start with a clean slate and my boss will give me a honeymoon period. Paul George’s value will never be higher and so now is the time to swing a deal that gives me a young player plus a pick; otherwise, I risk disaster in 2018 when he can walk. I call Magic Johnson and offer George for Brandon Ingram and a No. 1. I sweeten the deal by agreeing to take one of the salary slugs on the Laker roster (Timofey Mozgov) and explain to Magic that he needs George now, rather than risk waiting until George hits free agency, in order to give Russell Westbrook a reason to join the Lakers in 2018.
John Schuhmann: I’m hoping that George makes an All-NBA team, allowing me to pay him a lot more than any other team. Whether he does or doesn’t, I’m having a conversation about his future prior to the Draft. And if he’s not 100 percent committed to staying in Indiana, my first three calls are to Danny Ainge, Bryan Colangelo and Magic Johnson. I need to gather assets (young players and picks) to maximize my chances of having a good team in 3-5 years.
Sekou Smith: That names looks good on the big office door, doesn’t it? Anywho, about that Paul George business — I have a simple question for Paul: Do you want to be here or not? If so, great. We’ll move mountains to put a quality team around him and compete at the highest level. If not, we’re moving him as soon as possible. We’ll work with him to make sure it’s to a Western Conference destination he prefers, because there is absolutely no way I’m trading him within the conference. No one is going to give me a comparable talent in return and I don’t want him leading a team that is a direct playoff competitor. If he doesn’t want to call Indiana home, maybe native son Gordon Hayward would be an option. Either way, I’m working the phones non-stop until I find the right deal.
Ian Thomsen: I’m going to wait and find out whether I can offer him the extra $70 million that he can receive for making the All-NBA teams. Then — whether I’m able to offer him the super-max or the “routine” max — I’ll be explaining to him and his agent what we’re up against as a franchise in order to gauge whether he’s here to stay. If he isn’t (and I’m guessing he probably won’t be), then my next calls will be made to the NBA’s most compelling franchises — the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks, the LA Clippers and so on — to gauge their best offer. Yes, we all know that George appears headed to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. But if you believe in your franchise — this being my pitch to Danny Ainge, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers and others — then how can you pass up this rare chance to hire George for one year in hope of convincing him to stay for the long term? I’ll create a bidding war as best I can, trade him for as much as I can get, and begin the long rebuild around Myles Turner.
Lang Whitaker: Well, first you see if George made the All-NBA teams, which means he could make a whole lot more money by staying in Indiana. But I guess the bigger question is: Do you want to continue to build around Paul George, or are you ready to try something different? The grass may always seem greener on the other side, but George is one of those rare two-way players who can play at a superstar level. If I’m Indiana, I keep PG-13 and try to make his supporting cast better.