Paul George was finally traded on the eve of NBA free agency as the Oklahoma City Thunder came in out of seemingly nowhere to pluck the star swingman from the Pacers in exchange for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo. The move stunned many as the Pacers seemed to get pennies on the dollar for George compared to what they seemingly could have gotten for their star at the trade deadline.
There were reports that Indiana turned down offers of multiple future first round picks at the NBA trade deadline from teams like the Atlanta Hawks, but according to the Boston Globe‘s Adam Himmelsbach, Indiana refused a monster offer from Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
There were reports ahead of the deadline that the Celtics were making a strong push for George, but were having a problem meeting the Pacers’ asking price. The asking price wasn’t known, but what had been reported at the time was that the Celtics were wary of including the Nets 2017 pick, that became No. 1. According to Himmelsbach, that pick, and far more, were indeed involved and the Pacers still said no.
The Celtics at that time offered a package centered on the 2017 first-round pick they were to receive from the Nets, as well as three other future first-round choices, a source said. That Nets pick, of course, ultimately turned into the No. 1 overall selection.
Even though George was slated to become a free agent after next season, it was believed that Boston’s reasoning at the time was that it would essentially get two years of George in the playoffs, and that he would become ingrained in the winning culture and hopefully re-sign.
That report is wild considering the ammunition of assets the Celtics have and how gun shy Danny Ainge has appeared in dealing those assets in recent years. However, it’s certainly interesting that this leaks the night of the Paul George trade to Oklahoma City, which returned a seemingly paltry amount for Indiana. This feels, as much as anything, as a moment of saving face from the Celtics.
By floating this information out, the Celtics appear to have made a strong push and have since reassessed their efforts. It makes Indiana’s front office look bad and makes Danny Ainge look like he didn’t stash assets yet again, when a far worse offer than what the Celtics could easily have made landed a superstar. That said, this is a juicy rumor and one that, if true, means the Pacers lost out big time by holding onto Paul George through the season.
What makes this seem even stranger is that the Celtics reportedly refused to send out their best draft picks or young assets in the most recent negotiations with the Pacers, which led Indiana to go in another direction — and conveniently move George out of the East for good.
The Celtics seem to go back and forth on whether to go in for now or build for the future, but after missing out on George and Jimmy Butler this offseason, it seems as though they’ll have to hope Gordon Hayward will join them this summer if they’re going to make any significant roster improvements to their 2016-17 squad.