Blogtable: Will Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love get traded first?
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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More likely to change uniforms this summer: Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love?
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Steve Aschburner: I hope that it’s Paul George, for integrity’s sake. If he and the Lakers want each other so demonstrably, so brazenly, there’s no good purpose to having them spend all of 2017-18 apart. Not for them (wasting a season that could be spent acclimating, developing, improving) and not for the league (with George in one place bodily, in quite another mentally). Even if George were to chase and win a ring with Cleveland, it would feel even more perfunctory than Kevin Durant’s if it comes in a one-and-done. Better that the Lakers pony up a few pieces to provide the Pacers with the best consolation prize available and get this courtship out of the unofficial shadows.
Fran Blinebury: Paul George and Jimmy Butler. Unless, of course, the Cavs could land either one of them by trading Love. Then it would be all three. Since George has already told the Pacers he is leaving in 2018, it makes the most sense to get the best deal now rather than
Scott Howard-Cooper: Easy call: Paul George. The Bulls don’t have to move Jimmy Butler and the Cavaliers don’t have to move Kevin Love. Carmelo Anthony can veto a deal, complicating his situation with the Knicks. But George is the definition of “have to.” The Pacers are in a bad spot and need to get past this as soon as possible, and certainly before a training camp with PG opens with a massive and constant distraction. And they know it.
Shaun Powell: In order: Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony. The Pacers will trade PG13 in about 5 minutes, once they come across a halfway decent deal. The Bulls appear ready to rebuild. The new GM in Cleveland might consult with a higher power — LeBron — to determine Love’s fate. And Anthony isn’t going anywhere because of that no-trade clause; he cares more about living in New York than winning a championship elsewhere.
John Schuhmann: Paul George. With the news that he plans on leaving next summer, the Pacers need to get what they can for him. That’s easier to do in the offseason when teams have more flexibility than it would be if they wait until the season starts. Butler has two more season on his deal and is underpaid at $19 million per year, so it’s unclear why the Bulls would want to deal him. Anthony has a no-trade clause and given their lack of assets, the Cavs will have a tough time upgrading from Love.
Sekou Smith: Paul George’s exit in Indianapolis seems to be a done deal already, it’s just a matter of where he ends up. But Jimmy Butler’s name keeps coming up in every conversation I have with front office types. We’ll know more after Draft night, but there’s a good chance each and every one of these guys — Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, too — could find himself needing to call the movers this summer. And who knows, a couple of them could be trading spaces in the same locker rooms.
Ian Thomsen: Paul George’s move is a no-brainer. He’ll be traded for sure. Kevin Love is Cleveland’s best asset, but will the Cavaliers’ shorthanded front office be able to negotiate a complicated trade in a way that improves their team? That question can be answered only in hindsight.
Obviously Phil Jackson would love to move Carmelo Anthony, and if he does then I would expect it to happen later in July, after the Boston Celtics and others have exhausted their opportunities in free agency. As for Jimmy Butler: Why does his name keep coming up in trade rumors? He’s a two-way star, he’s under contract for two more seasons at a salary that is very affordable by current standards, and he’s only 27. Wouldn’t it be better to rebuild around him rather than give him away? It’s not like the Bulls are a small-market team that should fear losing him in 2019 — they have the wherewithal to keep him so long as they build a contender around him. So what am I missing here?
Lang Whitaker: While there are rumors involving all four guys, if the reports are true it feels like the most pressing situation is in Indiana, where Paul George could be leaving soon, either of his own volition (in free agency) or via trade. Which doesn’t mean the other three guys are definitely staying put. I’m just saying, if I’m putting someone in touch with a moving company, Paul George would be my likely first guess.