The two biggest names on the NBA trade market on deadline day are Jimmy Butler and Paul George, and the Boston Celtics have been connected in rumors to both players.
The Bulls and Celtics have been linked in conversations about Butler all week, with the Celtics reportedly not yet ready to meet Chicago’s asking price with regards to picks and current players like Jae Crowder. While those talks simmer on the backburner, Boston general manager Danny Ainge has also been talking with his old teammate Larry Bird in Indiana about the availability of George.
Like Butler, George would provide a two-way wing star for Boston to put with Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in a formidable trio that could press the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Initial reports from Adrian Wojnarowski stated that the Celtics weren’t willing to part ways with their Nets pick this year (which has good odds of being the top pick), but later conversations shifted and the Nets pick was on the table, but the Pacers’ price had yet to be met.
If the Pacers were to move George, with the fear that George will walk in free agency in 2018 and sign with his hometown Lakers, the expectation would be that they hit the reset button and look to build a young core with the current focal point being Myles Turner. That would mean top picks would certainly have to be a part of any trade package for Indiana to be willing to part ways with their superstar.
As for the Celtics, getting George for the next two years would bring them a window to compete for Finals appearances and championships (although the Warriors make any current championship window tight), but the risk in giving up a number of future assets is that George reportedly won’t commit to signing long-term anywhere other than Indiana or Los Angeles.
For now, talks appear to be just that, talks, but with the Celtics reportedly putting the Nets pick on the table there is legitimate a possibility that George could be moved by the 3 p.m. ET deadline.
Update, 1:20 p.m. ET: ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on SportsCenter that there are executives around the league that expect Paul George to be traded by the deadline, and Marc Stein confirmed that he’s heard many teams believe the Celtics can land him.
Adrian Wojnarowski reports traction isn’t there “yet,” but there could be movement by the deadline.
Windhorst has also reported that the Pacers have had discussions to create roster space, which teams anticipate is related to a possible Celtics deal that would send multiple pieces back for George.
Update, 2:49 p.m. ET: The Pacers have reportedly pulled George off of the trade market and will keep him for the remainder of the year, per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It appears that the Celtics and others were not willing to give up what the Pacers were asking for George when he seems focused on going to the Lakers in 2018.