Life in the NBA isn’t easy. There’s constant pressure, expectations, and the need for potential change. There are plenty of players today that get criticized for not winning a championship: Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard are just a few of our beloved All-Stars that haven’t been able to get the job done.
However, all three of those players are declining from their respective primes and perhaps their only hopes of winning a championship would become realistic by joining the San Antonio Spurs and even then, it’s nothing definite given how built the Golden State Warriors are.
There is one man who hasn’t won a title yet but has come close to competing for one a few times and that man is Paul George.
George’s Indiana Pacers haven’t been looked great since the offseason where Lance Stephenson departed for the Charlotte Hornets, and Indiana isn’t a place where free agents are going to want to sign. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where Paul George may want out.
There is a rift between he, Larry Bird, and the Pacers organization as a whole and this may have been the last season we’ll have seen “PG-13” in a Pacer uniform.
The difference between Paul George and those players I named above (yes, I was going somewhere with that) is that George is still right in the prime of his career and could help out a lot of teams in the NBA, though only a few make sense and should be considered legit potential landing spots.
Many would think that at this point, George would want to compete for an NBA Championship. While that may be true and it should be for all players, he hasn’t thrown out the idea of playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, though they shouldn’t be considered a ‘winning team’ any time soon.
Would he be willing to play for a bottom feeder? Doubt it, but there is certainly somewhat ‘mutual interest’ between he and the Lakers and it shouldn’t be ignored.
Plenty of teams could use him that are built to win now and these teams shouldn’t hesitate on reaching out to inquire about the All-Star small forward.
Let’s consider five potential landing spots for Paul George that would benefit both sides.
#5, Los Angeles Lakers
Yes, let’s just knock this one out.
There are plenty of teams that could contend with the addition of Paul George but people have to remember something… the Indiana Pacers aren’t just going to give him away. There are going to have to be assets that the Pacers would deem fit for their organization and the salaries have to match. There aren’t many teams out there that would meet these requirements… furthermore, it would only make sense for him to stay within the Eastern Conference.
The only reason the Lakers are making this list is because of the rumored interest between the two. There are rumors all the time, especially in the NBA, but this one in particular seems to have some traction to it. If Paul doesn’t mind losing but playing with a young, exciting core, all the power to him. Living in Los Angeles is never a bad thing either.
It is reported that Brandon Ingram won’t be on the trade block and if that’s the case, it would be very difficult for LA to get a deal done.
#4, Miami Heat
Pat Riley has a certain swagger and reputation that seems to entice a lot of talented individuals. This case should be no different. The Heat wouldn’t necessarily become ‘contenders’ right away with the addition of George, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt the chances.
Miami and former All-Star forward Chris Bosh mutually agreed to part earlier today. This is going to free up over $30M in cap space. The Heat would have the room to absorb the contract and still have some room to acquire talented bench players.
An NBA doctor has ruled that Chris Bosh is dealing with a career-ending illness; Heat can remove contract from cap. https://t.co/3mhpNGsstr
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 2, 2017
The Heat would instantly become a playoff team alongside Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic. Dion Waiters had a solid season with Miami this year and it seems he wants to stay with the club. If he signed for a low-mid range type deal, the Heat could also position themselves to add a player like Paul Millsap.
The Miami Heat have an interesting opportunity this summer for more than one reason and this is an opportunity they should at least consider. Like LA, Miami is an exotic area to live and spend time and that seems to be right up George’s alley.
#3, Portland Trailblazers
This might come has a surprise, considering above it states that ideally George should want to stick to the Eastern Conference… that is true. But if PG-13 gets a chance to play with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, he needs to take it.
Portland is a team that needs another legit All-Star. McCollum is a solid player but he isn’t the player the team needs him to be in order to become a title contender. That’s where George comes in.
The Blazers have some salaries they could dump, the only question is would Indiana bite? Probably not, but the fit would be tremendous and it would at least put Portland in position for the sixth seed at the very worst.
George would fit in best where he can be the best player but have two other fantastic players around him. He would have that in Portland, but the Warriors aren’t going anywhere any time soon and the Spurs and Rockets are lurking.
It would be hard for Portland to win a championship, much less make it out of the second round. It would be a fun team to watch though for sure.
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) April 27, 2017
#2, Boston Celtics
This scenario seems to be quite popular within NBA fan communities. It makes legit sense and Boston has some assets that Indiana could take, including the first pick in this year’s draft.
Essentially, a deal would come down to Danny Ainge and whether or not to pull the trigger and make a risky deal. Ainge will not make a deal unless he knows the move will impact the team in a certain way. He’s certainly one of the smarter GM’s in the NBA and he knows what he’s doing.
It’s going to come down to realizing that the Celtics will not beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. The two other top four seeds in this year’s playoffs (Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors) are more built to take down the Cavs and in any deal, the Celtics would give up a starter, the first pick, and a bench player. It makes more sense for Boston to keep those assets and go after a guy like Gordon Hayward or Paul Millsap.
The Celtics are an intriguing option because they have the assets to make the move. The factor that remains is will the move put the Celtics over the Cavaliers? Sorry Celtic fans, but it would not. It would be wise to keep all the assets and slightly build toward the future while competing for the Eastern Conference Finals at the same time.
After next season, Isaiah Thomas’ and George’s contracts will have expired and both be free agents. Odds of retaining both after signing a guy to a max contract this summer? None.
#1, Washington Wizards
Washington had a very disappointing end to the season by losing to Boston in Game 7 at TD Garden. They won once on the road and it was still clear that they need another star talent… that star talent should be Paul George.
Since 2014, it’s been clear the Wizards would need another true All-Star to knock out LeBron James. He has now been to seven straight NBA Finals and with the addition of Paul George, the Wizards have a legit shot at dethroning the king.
It’s important to know that the addition of Paul George to DC could only happen one way. The Wizards would have to sign and trade Otto Porter Jr.
Porter is a fantastic player but he’s not the guy that’s going to put the Wizards over the top, especially against LeBron James. He did have a solid year and improved tremendously from the year before and has a bright future. This is also why it would be Indiana’s best opportunity at getting a potential franchise centerpiece for the future, though he isn’t ready for that right now. Throw in Kelly Oubre if need be.
The combination of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Paul George could potentially run the Eastern Conference and at worst they’d be the second seed.
Scott Brooks runs a lot of “ISO” looks for Wall and Beal. Adding George would take much needed pressure off of them, while allowing George to be himself. Playing alongside John Wall has also never been a bad thing for literally anyone.
Washington is already the best built team to take down the Cavs. The addition of PG-13 would only improve their odds. It’s realistic, it makes sense financially, and it’s the best fit out there for him.
Ernie Grunfeld will probably play it safe and keep Porter this summer, while making another run with a team similar to the one we saw this last year but if he has any interest in keeping Wall past these next two years, the team is going to have to get over that hump… George can get them there.