The NBA trade deadline is swiftly approaching and not surprisingly, the rumors are beginning to fly. The latest one involves the Indiana Pacers, who are looking to find help for superstar forward Paul George.
The Pacers are currently slated sixth in the Eastern Conference, but have lost six straight games and aren’t considered a serious contender, which doesn’t sit well with George himself.
At All-Star Weekend, George spoke with ESPN’s Marc Stein and when asked about signing a maximum extension with Indiana he wouldn’t commit to it:
“As I told Larry, I always want to play on a winning team. I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it [all]. That’s important.
“Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.”
With the East looking as wide-open as it has in years thanks to the struggles in Cleveland, some teams have been inspired to make win-now moves, such as the Toronto Raptors trade with the Orlando Magic for Serge Ibaka.
Add Indiana to that group as they are apparently willing to part with their 2017 first-round pick for immediate help according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes:
In an attempt to secure help for All-Star forward Paul George, the Indiana Pacers have made their 2017 first-round pick available in a trade, league sources said…In what is considered to be a deep draft, the Pacers are hoping that such an asset would translate to the addition of either an established wing or established frontline player, according to sources.
Haynes mentions that another factor in the Pacers’ interest in moving the pick is that Paul George can become a free agent at the end of the 2017-2018 season, which gives them a relatively short time frame to put together a contending team or they risk George exploring moving on to another franchise.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, a first round draft pick like the one that the Pacers can offer would be an ideal return for shooting guard Lou Williams, who the team is rumored to be considering trading. While Williams has been the Lakers’ best player this season, trading him now while his value is high would make a lot of sense.