Is it the Perfect Time to Trade Paul George?

I know very well that this column might not make me the most popular person in Pacer Nation, but I feel the need to at least broach the subject. “Potential” is a great word in the NBA. Sometimes it holds more weight than the word “results.” This season one might argue that young Paul George showed us considerably more potential than he did results.

I do consider it important to note that I am not dismissing the potential of Paul George nor   do I wish him anything but success on the Pacers or any other franchise because for a 22-year old NBA player with the world in front of him, he certainly seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

But the word “potential” has shielded him from criticism on a fairly consistent basis. It’s fair to say that his scoring has not been consistent, his offensive assertiveness has been lackluster at times and his offensive game plan does not always compliment his natural athleticism, however, I will admit his defensive ability is quite valuable.

Basically what I am getting at is the concept of “selling high.” Paul George certainly has potential that may lead many of us to believe that he will improve in leaps and bounds. However, he has not shown us enough to be able to say vast improvement is lock by any means. The whole league would agree that “there might be something about this Paul George kid.” Which means that if Paul George does not make a huge improvement this season then his stock will probably never be higher than it is right now.

As I was taking a look at Tim Donahue’s excellent post about the Pacer’s offseason possibilities (really a must read) I talked myself into everything Donahue presented. I can see the logic behind it all. But I got to thinking about “what if these things just don’t happen.” Perhaps just due to bad luck. Donahue points out that Eric Gordan may demand a max contract, which would be a huge risk. Irsan Elyasova seems like a great fit, but another team might bid high for him forcing the Pacers to over pay. And I absolutely love the thought of Steve Nash on the Indiana Pacers, but financial reasoning aside it just might not happen because, you know, what franchise wouldn’t absolutely love the idea of Steve Nash on their team? Who knows what exactly Steve wants.

And perhaps that leaves the Pacers with re-signing Hibbert (and probably Hill) and attempting to retain the same basic core. In that situation their best chance of becoming a better team would lie in the player who is the most likely candidate for strong improvement: Paul George (perhaps along with Hibbert). Which allows you to see how much stake is truly put into Paul George. And at that point one might may want to look at one of their best assets as just that: an asset.

So I think it is fair to say that Paul George (at a very affordable price) could bring in significant talent to the Pacers who already have significant talent surrounding him. So I have provided a few examples of possible (and financially plausible) trades that are just meant to show the kind of potential that might be brought in if the Pacers were to move George. Obviously I have no idea if both sides of these trades would agree to the terms nor do I have the ability to know if they would truly make the Pacers better.

Paul George to the Philadelphia 76ers for Thaddeus Young

This would be a conservative trade. This would be the type of trade that the Pacers would make if they did have an inclination that Paul George’s ceiling is a little bit lower than most people think. In his fifth year in the league, Young is a little bit more likely to be getting close to the player that he is going to be in the future.

The stats between Young and George are quite similar. In fact, George’s playoff scoring and rebounding statistics were better than Young’s. But Young also came off of the bench and scored more efficiently and took higher percentage shots (leading to a higher field goal percentage). Young is also a very versatile player who has shot 50% over his career and can slide back and forth from small forward to power forward while playing good defense at either position. He would not be a big name, but he would likely fit seamlessly into the Pacers rotation as a player who does not have to start nor does he take many shots away from teammates.

Paul George to the Denver Nuggets for Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton

Perhaps this trade makes less sense because you would be trading potential for different potential. But part of me believes that the potential that Faried has to offer is significantly harder to find. The guy wasn’t supposed to be a factor in his rookie season, but he ended up playing significant minutes in playoff wins. He could very well be Hansbrough 2.0. He has a relentless motor, incredible strength and he’s got enough offensive skills to be more than just an energy guy. Plus his nickname is the Manimal and he dunks the ball really hard.

Jordan Hamilton was also just a rookie last season and he received very limited minutes. But his size and position allow him the potential to possibly be as good as Paul George is right now sometime down the road. He did not get much playing time for a deep Nuggets squad, but he averaged nearly 20 points per game as a sophomore at Texas.

This trade would bring in two second year players at a very cheap price. One of which would make an immediate impact on the floor. This trade would also be made with the idea that Paul George may very well demand a lot of money down the line if he does make a fair amount of improvement. Being able to acquire young quality players before then is a possible strategy.

Paul George to the Houston Rockets for Kyle Lowry 

Kyle Lowry is coming off of a breakout season. More recently, he is coming off of a trade demand-in-the-making. Apparently he does not believe that he can play under coach, Kevin Mchale next season. While I do not know enough to take sides in their dispute, I will admit that I am completely on the Kyle Lowry bandwagon as far as his future as a player in the NBA.

I do not mean to make a grand overstatement when I say that the difference between “potential” and “results” is the difference between Paul George and Kyle Lowry. All I mean is that I think that Lowry had a significantly bigger stake in winning games for the Houston Rockets than George did for the Pacers. Lowry is a triple-double threat who scores, rebounds, passes, plays excellent off-ball and on-ball defense and makes his teammates play at a high level.

Of course Lowry is a point guard which would mean that more changes would have to come. Either the Pacers would have to choose not to resign George Hill or to trade Darren Collison. I think both of these players have bright futures in this league; I just think that Lowry is a better player than both. With the absence of George the Pacers would have a very small back court, which means they would have to address this with some sort of low-key signing or look towards the draft for a bigger guard.

Paul George’s Future

It is probably very unlikely that any of these exact trades happen and if the Pacers choose to keep Paul George then they likely have a lot to look forward to with his presence. In fact, you wouldn’t hear me complain. But I do feel that the Indiana front office is in a position where they have to consider the idea.

In our last Post-Game Grades of the season Tim Donahue gave George a C+. Donahue wrote, “No way around it, Paul George spent most of the series and most of this game as a disaster offensively, and we could spend days discussing his travails running the fast break. But, he’s young, and he’s a good kid. Bizarrely, if you want encouragement, watch him guarding Wade from tonight’s game. It will make you feel better about Paul, and also make you appreciate just how ungodly unstoppable Wade was.”

Very well said. It leaves Indiana with a little bit of a dilemma: Do you wait for potential or do you milk that word for everything it’s worth?


Tags: Paul George

  • Tim Donahue

    Evans is 6’5″.

  • Alan

    Listen…. Granger can make his own shot. He had a bad shooting year at first then picked it up at the end. We dont need to give up a younger very talented on both sides of the ball small forward for a 37 year old who will take a lot of cap for the 1 year hes got left in this league. I would love a younger version of steve nash because that is the type of pg we need but i dont think we can get one in the near future unless we draft one and they are rare. Rondo would seem like a good fit but we all no there is no realistic chance. We are a young talented team. Give these guys a chance.

  • Realist

    The more I listen to some of these ridiculous trades, the more I hope we stand pat (‘cept for Barbosa)

    And we better not move Tyler either. That guy is a beast who we’ve kept caged way too long.

  • Zach Winningham

    A big, awkward beast who can only move to the right.

  • Realist

    Draws fouls though. And is money from the FT line. More than adeuqate backup 4, in my opinion.

  • Realist

    Careful, or you’ll wake up NoLookPass

  • dwain

    @Alan yeah u are right Nash is old…as in vet player that knows the ins and outs of the game, that knows how to drag a piss poor team to the playoffs nearly every year, that makes everyone around him score better and faster… and can run an offense getting the most from its parts…yeah we sure don’t want that for 2 years huh?(i don’t think we have to give up Danny to get him)
    Tyler is just starting to grow into his game, i was much more unhappy with PG’s offensive output in the last series…face it folks this is a buisness and trades will be made we just have to hope that the guiding hand is making it better in the process and so far i like what i see. if they improve as much next year as they have in the last, look out NBA.

  • NoLookPass

    LOL @ Realist

    I never understood why Tyler gets so much hate and buzz especially as the 8th man in rotation. 99% of other teams fans hate him to death and over half of the fans of his own team dislike him too. He got limited shots with a poor supporting cast and was used as a perimeter defender most nights and fans think he should be out there getting double doubles off the bench. When we play teams where he’s allowed to play in paint he gets rebounds and when he gets plenty of shots he shoots a far better percentage and when he started he did both just fine.

    He’s viewed different than any player I’ve ever seen in the NBA where most all positives are ignored and any negative is magnified threefold. When people make the Tebow comparison its here where it rings true as people lose their mind over both guys and people openly pull for them to fail so they can say I told you so.

    I like him but I actually hope we trade him since he’s unanimously became the teams scapegoat despite being the teams 8th man down the stretch. I also hope that everyone who wants Lou to play PF get their wish so when its him out there checking 3 point shooters people can wonder why his rebounding when down too. People’s love of Lou will vanish so fast it will make your head spin when he’s not down low reaping the benefits of other guys defense forcing jumpers or getting the block and rebound from being in the paint.

  • Alan

    @dwain i didnt say nash was bad. Nash is amazing! But he is 37 and will only have 3 years max left. I just want my team to be a contender for at least a good decade before we go down again. If we get him and thts a big IF i dont want to give away to much and that means cap too….. And to the other guys stop praising psycho T its making me sick. Unless he can hit his mid range jumper he is worthless except for when he gets pissed of because thats funny.

  • Alan

    But i still want to keep him because we need to return the same core next year

  • Tom

    Tyler is an obvious black whole, ending possessions nearly every time the ball enters his hands. and not ending them well, either, mind you. check out that fg% ughhhh

  • Tom

    welp meant “black hole” of well who cares if I look dumb. but yeah, tyler had a huge setback year

  • NoLookPass

    If Tyler was a true black hole he would have more shots but his PER36 FGA fell 2.4 this year and 3.9 from his rookie year. With the fact he shoots better the more shots he takes being less of a black hole is his major issues. He shot 45.7% when taking 9 or more shots in games this year which is around the bottom FGA for 6th MOY candidates but when he takes 5 or less shots he shot 29.5%.

  • Mike

    Been away for a while and I come back to 60+ comments. Of course NLP is here defending Hands-Bro with the “give him more shots” argument. Does this make any sense whatsoever to anyone? Where are his post moves? Where are his mid-range moves? What PF can he defend without fouling? He doesn’t have any. He’s too predictable. His game hasn’t grown. It’s obvious to everyone else here but you. I’ll give it to you that he hustles and I like him better than Lou 90% of the time. But he’s not 6th MOY material.

    Trade/give him away to the Bobcats. He can be a starter and maybe post 12-10. Will that make you happy? I’ll be happy because it’ll be one more guy that David West can eat alive in the post.

  • dwain

    anybody else notice how well called these last few heat games have been, Bron fouled out…if only their games with us had been called fairly…be Boston beatin on us now…

  • NoLookPass

    It helps to be a name value team and have stars that get the benefit of the doubt.

  • rick

    The only way the Pacers will do anything next year is to either get Nash or Deron Williams. The best passer on the Pacers is either David West, or Hibbert, which is very sad. We are supposed to be this passing team yet we are basically last in assists.

    I also believe that the Pacers could get Williams if they try and offer him a max. I don’t see why they don’t try. He wants to go to a winning team, and the he is a PERFECT fit here. He also stated he wants to play with a good center. This will mean Hill will be gone, but o well.

  • NoLookPass


    His numbers when he get sixth man level shots speak for themselves over a large number of FGA so its not some fluke small sample size and he shot 49.8% as a starter in this league so its clear he has more than you are giving him credit for. If you give him limited shots he shoots bad and that seems to be the case with most guys who are offense first players that shoots lots of jump shots.

    You don’t have to like him and most don’t but the numbers don’t lie, give him shots and he will put up numbers, Just this year when he had a down year he put up 14.2 PPG a game over 17 games on 11.7 FGA per game where he was given 9 shots or more and only once he got over 15 shots and in that game he got 22. That alone would be Top-5 in PPG off the bench so its clearly not as bad as you think.

  • Tom for NoLookPass


    I guess you don’t know what I meant by “black hole” regarding psycho t. what I mean is that the whole offense stops as soon as he gets the ball. he has no idea what to do other than to awkwardly attack the rim, sometimes getting to the line but often missing badly. his adjusted fg% have nothing to do with this observation – his shooting was subpar this season overall and his ability to wreck any and all offensive rhythm by ending 90% of all possessions he gets a chance to speaks for itself

  • NoLookPass

    Once again if all he did was get it and rush the rim every time he touched it he would have more shots and if he had more shots he would have more makes based on 3 years of stats. The guy who wrecks the offense is Barbosa who will hold the ball until the shot clock is about to expire only to jack up a wild shot or dump it off late to force someone else into a bad jumper and guess who the unlucky guy that happened too a ton is?

  • NoLookPass

    People get poor usage and poor player confused far too much and it happens a ton on the flip-side as well with players who are used right and put into position to succeeded having people overvalue them and then seeing them struggle when not used to their strengths.

  • Mike

    I’m not saying Barbosa should be getting shots either. He’s more of a guy who is cleaning up scraps or beating guys off the dribble when the play collapses. I still think T should get some looks but not at the rate you think. It almost reminds me of JOBs gameplan of jacking up 3′s. When it works the team looks great. When it doesn’t the team looks dreadful.

    I’ve looked before and don’t feel like checking it now but I’m willing to bet most of T’s “big” games this past season (where he had more than 5 shots) happened in losses where the game was already out of hand.

  • PG24ShootMore

    Just saying I hate D-Will with a passion. I know it’s trivial and that I’ll always love the Pacers but I’d be very, very angry if we did sign him. The way he treats his teammates and talks to his coaches shows how little character he has, which is something I have taken pride in the Pacers for having.

  • Alan

    the more i watch this celtics heat series the more i think If we got half the calls the C’s get we would have won in 5. And I WANT RAJON RONDO!

  • rick

    There wouldn’t be any griping coming from Deron when the Pacers keep winning games, and they would win a lot of games I can guarantee you that

  • gregor t.

    Larry Bird will not offer Deron Williams a contract of any kind. Deron Williams would not sign a contract from the Pacers of any kind. Get over it people. He is not a winner or a Pacer. Move on.

  • gregor t.

    Come on Rick. Why did DWill beg out of a 50 win team in Utah with a Hall of Fame coach, who he got fired, and move to a team like NJ if he was anything like a true player? That’s not a Hoosier and definetly not a Pacer. Deron would be griping every time someone took more shots than him every single game. PASS! And he wouldn’t. He is about stats, not wins.

  • Mike 2

    Sign Nash for 2yrs 10 mil. No one else will offer him that, and he could be the piece that take us over the hump. George Hill won’t get the 7.5 mil a year he wants from anyone, he doesn’t have a positition. Maybe we could upgrade from Lou in the draft or package the pick for a backup C.
    Nash Collison
    PG Hill/Stevenson
    DG D-Jones
    West Hans
    Hibbert Lou

  • NexSerenade (Mike)

    This is absurd.

    I remember when we drafted PG the analysts all said he may be the best play in the draft in four years if he grows every year. What has he done since then? Grow every year. I’m not saying they people are always right or their word is law by any means, but he has clearly shown he improvement. Not just “potential”. Potential means you haven’t done anything yet. PG has IMPROVED drastically. Guy couldn’t buy a 3 last year, and for awhile this season he was leading the league in 3pt%.

    Now, I’m a huge NBA and Pacers fan and have been my whole life, and I know players tend to move around. A lot. But this is someone who is going to be the center of the whole franchise sighing a few years, and you really want to trade him Kenny Faried I.E. the next Ben Wallace? I’m sorry, but if those were the best trades you can come up with then PG is staying a Pacers for a while longer. Not a single one of those is a upgrade over Paul. I like some of those guys over guys we have on the roster right now, but you don’t trade your best defender and budding star just another guy because you can upgrade one spot on the roster. PG is our best guard, and will eventually play more time at the Three as he gets more comfortable in the NBA and Granger ages.

    We need a legit center to backup Hibbert, and we need a consistent scoring threat from the bench. Draft one and sign the other. If they don’t work out, make a trade. But don’t GUT the team I.E. trade George or Granger.

    Also, Tyler is about as good as he will get folks. And I am fine with that. He may become more consistent as he gets older but he will not drastically be granted Blake’s hops by the basketball gods. I can see him at 8-12 points, 8 rebounds off the bench and that’s solid for my 8th best player.

  • Realist

    Greg Oden says he’s sitting out 2012-13, but I wonder if there’s any wiggle room there. Easy low-risk offer. 10-15 mins a game behind Roy. No expectations.

  • Alan

    Are there any bench scorers in this years free agency? I heard Jordan Crawford and if that is true i say we go after him. If we get him don’t go after Barbosa. Then draft a center to backup Roy, that isn’t Fab Melo, or take a chance on another athletic wing to help the bench with defense and some scoring. It’s realistic, simple, and it won’t take up much money. If not this I say we stay put keep everyone and make another run at it next year with a more experienced team.

  • gregor t.

    Alan, Bird has tried to bring in OJ Mayo for the past three years. The reason he wants Morway fired is because he didnt pull off the Mayo for McBob deal, a deal that would have cost the Pacers nothing in terms of production or finance. Bird still wants to bring in Mayo cause he can play defense against Wade, which Crawford wont do and Barbosa cant do, and they both make way too much money for what they bring in the playoffs. Only now, it might cost the Pacers DCollison because Memphis wants a PG to back up M.Connely. Mayo would give the Pacers scoring off the bench and defense in the playoffs, but it may cost the Pacers DC. A back up for Hibbert is a much more difficult fill. The loss of Jeff Foster hurt the Pacers more than i think people realize. The Pacers have no player on the team that can fill his role, and they must find a true back-up for Granger to match up with Lebron if they want to beat the Heat. Frankly, the Pacers starters must step up next year. And even more frankly, in the playoffs, Coach Vogel needs to play the starters 40 minutes + per game if the Pacers are going to make the next step. The bench may never get there. The starting 5 can.

  • Kdog

    Can I just say that this was a stupid article when it was written and its even worse now. Where do they get their writers?