Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET NBA trade deadline came and went, and to the surprise of many, Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird stayed put with his current roster, not making a single trade as time expired to get a deal done.
Perhaps the biggest rumor surrounding this year’s trade deadline was centered around Pacers’ superstar forward Paul George. For the last few days, there has been much speculation surrounding George’s future with the Pacers. The 26-year-old swingman had garnered interest from the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the week, but a deal could not be reached that would benefit both sides.
As the afternoon went on, it looked more and more possible that Bird could ship George to the Boston Celtics, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported. According to Woj, the Celtics had yet to meet Indiana’s desires on a deal, but had incorporated the Brooklyn Nets’ 2017 first-round pick into the deal as the talks progressed. Marc Stein of ESPN had also announced that the Denver Nuggets made a “monster” offer to Paul George, but to no avail.
Now, the Pacers are left with the exact roster that they had before the deadline, with little-to-no idea as to what George’s future holds in Indiana. George previously stated that he would like the Pacers to be able to contend for a championship if he does decide to sign a long-term contract extension this summer — one year before he’s set to be a free-agent in 2018.
Thursday afternoon, Sam Amick of USA Today tweeted that George was “hell-bent” on joining the Lakers, if the Pacers can’t compete for a chance at winning a title — likely by the time he’s a free-agent. The scary thing for the Pacers, however, is that Bird failed to make any acquisitions to fulfill George’s wishes of surrounding the team with better talent. Say, for instance, that if the Pacers (29-28) fail to make the playoffs, George may second guess signing that long-term extension to remain with the Pacers — a potential recipe for disaster in Indiana.
Other targets that the Pacers were linked to include Aaron Afflalo and Jahlil Okafor, but no deal with either player could be finalized.
The Indiana Pacers resume their 2016-17 schedule when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tip-off is schedule for 7 p.m. ET.