The Indiana Pacers are a disappointing 29-28 thus far in the 2016-17 season — a far cry from what the team looked like it could accomplish on paper prior to the season’s start. If one thing is for certain, it is that team president Larry Bird hates losing. He has shown over the years that he is willing to do almost anything to further improve his roster so that his team can contend for a championship. But just how far is Bird willing to go to improve his team?
According to a report from USA Today, Pacers forward Paul George recently met with owner Herb Simon to discuss the latest rumors, and expressed his conditions for staying in Indiana in the long-term. The piece summarizes how George stated his willingness to remain with the Pacers, and how he wants to go down as one of the greatest to ever don the blue and gold. George asked for only one thing from Simon, however — that the Pacers can have the right pieces necessary to contend for a championship by the time George is set to be a free-agent in the summer of 2018.
Bird has been aggressively looking for ways to improve the team’s roster around George as the trade deadline approaches, but is Bird willing to go as far to trade George himself — rather wishing to rebuild around Myles Turner? According to the report, the Los Angeles Lakers have been working on a deal to acquire the 26-year-old superstar.
“George will be a free agent in the summer of 2018, and it’s no secret that the 26-year-old Palmdale, Calif. native would love nothing more than to sign with his hometown Lakers if the future is bleak in Indiana. The fact that the Lakers are in the process of trying to land George right now, with new lead executive Magic Johnson moving fast to fill that superstar hole that Kobe Bryant left behind, only makes these next two days all the more compelling.The only way that it could be imagined that Bird would be so quick to ship his best player out West would be if the Lakers included the likes of a young asset such as Brandon Ingram or Jordan Clarkson, as well as a couple of draft picks to include in the potential deal. For Los Angeles to acquire George, they would likely have to give up far more than what they may be willing.”
On the other hand, perhaps it is ideal that the Pacers try to get whatever they can in a trade for George, as it remains a real possibility that he bolts and signs with another team once he becomes a free-agent. Losing arguably the best player he’s had in years for virtually nothing is the last thing that Bird wants to see.
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.