Utah Jazz: Does a duo of Gordon Hayward and Paul George make sense?

Mar 20, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) is guarded by Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Utah 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) is guarded by Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Utah 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The ESPN show “Highly Questionable” recently touched briefly on a duo of Paul George and the Utah Jazz’s Gordon Hayward. Would pairing the two of them make sense?

As we get nearer and nearer to the end of the NBA postseason and the start of a crazy offseason, the free agency rumors are certain to begin flying off the hook. More so than usual, fans of the Utah Jazz will be absolutely glued to free agent news as their best player, Gordon Hayward, just so happens to be one of the most coveted players available this summer.

It’s no stretch to say that this is the most crucial offseason in Utah Jazz history and that Hayward’s decision will alter the franchise for years to come.

Of course amidst rumors and reports that may have some backbone to them, there’s always also going to be some instances of heavy speculation that, while it may not lead to much, can still be fun to consider. On the May 19th episode of the ESPN show “Highly Questionable”, they touched on such an idea – namely whether pairing Gordon Hayward and Paul George would be a wise decision.

The question that was posed was “Would Paul George and Gordon Hayward be wise to play together on the Pacers?” You can see it yourself in the video below, starting at the 3:28 mark. In a nutshell, their answer was that if those two want to play together, it will have to be as teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers as the Indiana Pacers’ chances of retaining PG will be bleak at best.

Of course, that’s obviously discounting the fact that George has one year left on his contract and that the Pacers could hypothetically add a star such as Hayward in free agency for 2017-18 in an attempt to woo PG to stay long-term. That’s still likely a long shot on many levels and I don’t disagree with them that a Hayward-George union in Indiana wouldn’t last long anyway, but in my personal opinion, I do believe that the Pacers will hold on to PG for this season.

Given all this “George to the Lakers” hubbub, any other team would be running a pretty high risk to make a major trade for George for what could be a one-year rental. In the case of the Lakers, if they’re as sure about acquiring him in free agency as they think they are, then trading for him now when they could simply sign him in 2018 doesn’t make much sense either.

But to the crew of Highly Questionable’s point, it likely wouldn’t make sense for Hayward to join forces with George in Indiana for the simple reason that it looks like his days there are numbered, especially after he failed to make an All-NBA team and can no longer be considered for a Designated Player Exception contract. Not to mention, financially the Pacers would be hard-pressed to pay both guys, particularly once George becomes a free agent.

But setting the financials to one side and considering the possibility of these two guys playing on the same team (ideally with the Jazz, right?) I honestly think they’d make a fascinating duo. Yes, they’re both small forwards, but Paul George played some two-guard early in his career alongside former Pacer Danny Granger, so that ought to be a doable adjustment.

Not to mention, Hayward’s logged some minutes at the four-spot so they could make up a potent small lineup as well. Just don’t ask George to slide to power forward.

A duo of George and Hayward would allow each of them to play alongside an All-Star caliber scorer to shoulder the offensive load – something that neither has really had their entire career. They’d also create an effective defensive pair and theoretically should have great chemistry with one another given that George has stated that he’d love to play with Hayward and being from the same draft class it’s clear the two of them have a good relationship.

If Paul George still had two or more years left on his contract or if he were a free agent and I felt any amount of confidence that he’d want to sign with Utah or that the Jazz could afford him, I’d most certainly want them to make a push for him. He’s long been one of my favorite players in the league (aside from some of the questionable comments and attitude he exhibited this year) and it would be incredible to see him suit up in a Jazz uniform alongside Hayward.

Unfortunately, while pairing the two of them up makes a ton of sense from a basketball standpoint, much like the Highly Questionable crew alluded to, it doesn’t make much sense in any other way. For it to have any chance of happening, it would likely have to be on a team such as the Lakers. Thus it’s not a realistic idea for either of their current small market teams.

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Nevertheless, although PG-13 more than likely won’t be the answer to Utah’s desired offseason improvements, there’s a lot the Jazz could do to alter and better the team this summer. While they may not make a Paul George-level splash, it will still be exciting to see what moves they make via trades or free agency (including retaining Gordon Hayward) to help the Jazz stay formidable in the Western Conference.