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Not Trading Paul George, Pacers Might Have Missed A Big Chance

The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone. And the Indiana Pacers, a center for NBA trade rumors due to the situation with Paul George, haven’t moved. That’s right, PG13 is still in a Pacers uniform – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Have the Pacers blown a big chance?

Up until the Thursday deadline, one of the league’s top stories was one whether it was time to hit reset for the Pacers. After all, in today’s NBA, one of the least enviable situations is to be stuck firmly in the middle of the pack, with no projection for upward movement. That’s where Paul George and the Pacers are: land of average. And by refusing to hit the “go” button on any trades, they’ve effectively chosen to stay average.

The Shadow Of Free Agency

George is a very, very good player – averaging 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game – and he knows it. That’s why it was very believable when reports cropped up, saying he only wanted to play for a contender.

The Indiana Pacers are not a contender, not right now. They’re a little stuck behind the logjam of mid-to-upper Eastern Conference teams, looking at the backs of Atlanta, Toronto, and Washington. At 29-28 right now, it’s unsure if they’ll even make it out of the first round. We can spend all day talking about the quality of their players – Myles Turner, Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson – but their record remains, and not likely to blast off anytime soon.

So, with the shadow of Paul George’s free agency looming, does that mean George walks from the Pacers? The answer is a likely yes – he’s expressed interest in playing for his hometown, LA. His contract has an opt-out option after the 2018 season. And if he does, President Larry Bird will be kicking himself for a long time, given the offers he had.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics had put the Nets’ Pick (projected to be Top-4 in the 2017 draft) on the table. Marc Stein said the Nuggets were making a “monster” offer. But Bird didn’t bite, and if PG13 walks away, the Pacers will be without their best superstar in the last decade and nothing to fill in the gap.

Try To Compete Then?

So, what’s the second option? Logically, the Pacers have to keep trying. If they can convince Paul George that they can still build a contender around him, perhaps from the off-season onward, then they can re-sign him and open another window.

For a while, they were considering adding youth, such as Jahlil Okafor. They were also reportedly shopping their first round pick around in an attempt to bring in help for George.

Whatever it is the Indiana Pacers have to do, they have to do it fast. Because they’re running out of time.

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