Rumor #2: Celtics will trade Markelle Fultz to Indiana for Paul George
Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George was the focus of trade rumors for nearly the entire 2016-17 NBA season and continues to be heading into the offseason. His time with the team that drafted him appears short any way you look at it and with just one year left on his contract, the Pacers could look to trade him for something of value rather than let him walk for nothing.
And although many rumors have had him opting to join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in the summer of 2018, there’s also been some speculation that the Boston Celtics could make a win-now move for PG that would hopefully vault them over the Cavs and convince him to re-sign once his contract is up.
In fact, according to a recent rumor that stemmed from CBSSports’ Reid Forgrave, the Celtics could potentially look to trade the number one overall draft pick, who most experts say will be Washington’s Markelle Fultz, to the Pacers in exchange for Paul George.
This is a risky move for Boston, to be sure, as George could turn around and leave them after one year, but if they’re hoping to capitalize on Isaiah Thomas’ currently friendly contract and make a significant run at a championship next season, it could be one of their best bets. Paul George has come closer to beating LeBron James than just about any other player currently in the East and his elite two-way prowess would undoubtedly elevate the Celtics to new heights.
It also makes quite a lot of sense for the Pacers as well. If they lose out on George, there’s no way that they’ll be able to bounce back from that kind of loss quickly and will have to go through some kind of rebuild. With that being the case, they might opt to accelerate the process by trading George away for instant value and using prolific rookie Markelle Fultz and up-and-coming Myles Turner as their two cornerstones.
Indiana could also make use of a point guard given that they traded away George Hill last season and while Jeff Teague had his moments, he’s an unrestricted free agent himself and may not want to play for a team that has just lost its superstar. Financially speaking, it would make more sense for the Pacers to rebuild with a guy like Fultz than it would to re-sign Teague to a lucrative contract.
If this rumor pans out, it will be absolutely exceptional for the Utah Jazz and their chances of retaining Gordon Hayward as it effectively kills two birds with one stone, removing two legitimate Hayward suitors from the picture. If Boston trades for PG, they’ll lack the cap space to add Hayward and even if they could afford him, signing two very similar players wouldn’t be their best option.
On the other side of things, Indiana trading away George would be a clear signal of a rebuild. And although it could be cool for Hayward to be “the man” on the team in his home state, if winning is truly his priority I doubt that the Pacers would be able to sell him on that concept without Paul George.
Quite frankly, I kind of find this rumor unlikely given the fact that I don’t believe Boston will gamble on losing a potential star in Fultz for George who could leave after one year. Not to mention, CBSSports also reported earlier today that the Pacers are not seeking trade offers for Paul George yet, meaning they may very well be gearing up to convince him to stay put.
Nevertheless, improbable though it may be, a Fultz-for-George trade is absolutely the scenario that Jazz fans ought to hope comes to fruition as it will greatly strengthen Utah’s case for Hayward to stay.