Two potential Celtics offers for Indiana's Paul George

Two potential Celtics offers for Indiana's Paul George

BOSTON -- It’s no secret Paul George has been on the Celtics’ radar for quite some time now.
It's not hard to figure why.


He’s a 6-foot-9 forward with the ability to carry a team offensively while doing an above-average job defending the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer.
But George has shown signs in recent years of wanting more than just to be known as one of the game’s top players.
He wants to win. Now.
And the Pacers, just four years removed from the second of back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference finals, aren't that kind of winner. This past season they were the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and were swept in the first round by Cleveland.
Their chances of getting to the postseason don’t look great next season. And even if they make it, they're likely to make a similarly quick exit.
But, as we’ve stated, George is one of the best players in the NBA.
So why would the Pacers even consider a trade?
As noted, the Pacers are not a team that’s showing signs of building towards a brighter future. Aside from George, the team’s most significant player  is Myles Turner. And Indiana can’t expect to get appreciably better through the draft, not with picks 18 and 47 in this draft. Free agency is an option, especially if the Pacers decide to renounce their cap holds and exceptions, which, according to Spotrac.com, would create nearly $27 million in cap space. But even with that, it’s far from a given Indiana will use it wisely to bring in the kind of talent that will entice George to stay after this upcoming season.
And that's the concern more than any other for the Pacers, who are likely to go into next year without an extension done for George. He hits free agency next summer and rumors are swirling that he plans to bolt for the West Coast and play for the Lakers, so the worst-case scenario for Indiana is to see its franchise player walk away and have nothing to show for it. That’s why it’s imperative for the Pacers to gauge the trade market for George. Losing him would certainly mean they'd be rebuilding. But, as the Celtics have shown, it doesn’t have to be quite so painful if you can accumulate enough assets to soften the blow of losing George.
So here’s a potential deal to ponder:


  • Paul George


  • 2018 Brooklyn pick
  • Terry Rozier
  • Jaylen Brown
  • Tyler Zeller

Such a deal gives the Celtics the coveted wing star they've longed for. Losing Brown is a tough pill to swallow, based on the steady growth and improvement we saw from him this season. The idea that he could emerge as an All-Star in a few years isn’t really that far-fetched. But considering the Pacers are rebuilding, they’re going to likely want a player with star potential like Brown and a rotation guard like  Rozier. Zeller gives them some added frontcourt depth.
The Pacers would love to get Boston’s No. 1 pick this year, but the Celtics can’t part with that for a player they could potentially not be able to re-sign next summer.
And by keeping Jae Crowder, the Celts have a team that’s more poised to once again be among the top teams in the East and would be among the favorites to return to the conference finals for a second straight year.
That deal focuses on the Pacers’ adding youth and a high draft pick. But if they wanted to be more competitive from the jump, they could pursue getting Crowder and Avery Bradley, along with the 2018 pick from Brooklyn.
I’m not crazy about the first deal, but I see its value for both teams -- the Celtics get their star and the Pacers add talent and a draft pick. Plus, they likely won’t win much next year and could wind up with their own pick being in the lottery (top-14), in addition to the pick they get from Boston via Brooklyn.
As for the second deal involving Bradley and Crowder . . . I don’t like it at all.

I know the Celtics are going to have a tough time re-signing Bradley; by moving him now, they can assure they get something in return. But parting ways with Crowder means parting ways with one of the most team-friendly contracts in the NBA -- a five-year, $35 million deal he signed two years ago -- that he's sure to outperform.

It feels like too much to part ways with for George, who 1) the Celtics may not be able to be retain and 2) makes you better but not good enough to leap-frog Cleveland for the top spot in the East.

Irving, Brown out again for Celtics tonight vs. Thunder

Irving, Brown out again for Celtics tonight vs. Thunder

BOSTON – The injury report remains the same for the Celtics who will enter tonight’s game against Oklahoma City with a roster that remains shorthanded.

In addition to Gordon Hayward (left ankle) who has been out all season, joining him on the inactive list tonight are Jaylen Brown (NBA concussion protocol); Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness); Marcus Smart (right thumb sprain) and Daniel Theis (out for season after left knee meniscal tear surgery).

Only Irving and Brown are expected to return in the near future. Theis has his season-ending surgery last week, the Celtics continue to insist Hayward won't play this season and Smart has a shot at returning at some point in the playoffs as early as the latter stages of the first round or early in the second.


Celtics-Thunder preview: Balancing rest and rhythm

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics-Thunder preview: Balancing rest and rhythm

BOSTON – With the NBA playoffs looming, this is a tricky time of year for most of the league’s playoff-bound teams. 

Both players and coaches want to head into the postseason well-rested. 

But they also want to be in a good playing rhythm.

MORE - OKC not taking shorthanded C's for granted

Injuries have forced the Boston Celtics to sit some players who are likely to be able to play (and well-rested) when the playoffs. 

And tonight’s foe, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are in a similar situation as well. 

“It's something you're walking a tightrope on all the time, where a guy is really rested but you've taken him out of rhythm,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “The biggest thing is, there's gotta be communication between the players and the medical staff, coaches, of where guys are, what they need.

Donovan added, “I think rest this time of year would help any player, but there's a balance between maybe getting too much rest and maybe getting out of rhythm. The players are always walking that line during the course of the year, because you kind of get into a rhythm of playing every other day, you get into that, and then there's a back to back here or there, and you get three games in four nights, but yeah. You try to best as you can with your players, help them balance that the best they can.”

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook can see how some players might need to strike a balance between getting enough rest late in the season while maintaining a good playing rhythm.  

So, I asked him which is his preference?

“I prefer to play,” he said. “Rhythm and all that (expletive), it’s in your mind.”

For Westbrook, maybe so. 

But it is very real to a number of players in the NBA, among them being his teammate and fellow All-Star Paul George. 

“If you know why you’re in the gym and the work you’re getting, you lock in,” George said. “You prepare, get your work done. And you get off your legs, get off our feet and get your rest. It’s easy to balance the two when you know what exactly you’re doing and you know exactly what you need to do.”

Boston has worked to strike that balance with Kyrie Irving all season.

That’s why the five-time All-Star is averaging 24.4 points per game which is 11th in the league. However, he’s doing it in 32.2 minutes which ranks 55th in the league in minutes played per game. 

Lately, Irving has gotten more time off than he would like as he deals with a sore left knee that has kept him sidelined for the Celtics’ last three games. 

It doesn’t appear to be something that will limit him now.

However, having him sit out games now increases the likelihood that he’ll be ready to roll at or near full strength, when the playoffs arrive. 

Boston is also playing without Jaylen Brown who suffered a concussion when he fell on his back following a dunk at Houston on March 3. He is expected to return at some point between now and the end of the regular season which could be a blessing in disguise for the 6-foot-7 Brown who will be called upon to not only remain Boston’s next-best scoring option to Kyrie Irving, but also defend at a high level. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that they have given thought to how to find that happy medium between resting guys while ensuring as best they can, that players will be refreshed for the playoffs. 

“We haven’t been in that situation very often, where we choose to do rest except for that stretch in December when we rested Al (Horford),” Stevens said. “But everything else has kind of happened organically with guys being dinged up or whatever the case may be. I think that’s … we’ll probably be in a situation where we will continue to have those discussions.”