Celtics

Celtics

If the Celtics trade for Paul George, and sign Gordon Hayward, they'll do so knowing George could only be a one-year rental, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe.

More from Lowe's story on the biggest questions going into the NBA free agency, which begins at midnight tonight:

Start here: Dismiss the possibility of Boston signing Hayward, acquiring George, and then somehow signing George to an extension -- regardless of how they order the moves. They just can't open the room to do both without trading Al Horford.

If Boston trades for George, they will do so knowing he could be a rental. That limits the price they are willing to pay. Despite reports to the contrary, Boston has not included any of the following in its offers to the Pacers, per league sources: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, the 2018 Nets pick, and the Lakers-Kings pick Boston snared from Philly in the Markelle Fultz blockbuster.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reported Thursday that the Pacers were looking for the Celtics' 2018 first-rounders via the Nets and Lakers/Kings and two starters for George. Lowe reports the Celtics standing offer is Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and a choice of the C's protected first-round picks via the Clippers and Grizzlies. Boston is unwilling to go beyond that because of the risk of George leaving for the Lakers, where he has said he wants to play, after a year. 

More from Lowe:

If they yield on either the Nets or Lakers/Kings pick, George will be a Celtic.

Boston may have to trade Smart anyway to free up max-level cap space for Hayward. The deflated cap killed them. If both Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic come over, there is no way for Boston to pry open Hayward-sized space -- about $29.7 million -- without dealing a Smart-sized salary.

Hayward is reportedly set to meet with the Jazz, Celtics and Heat once free agency begins this weekend.