Should the Jazz make a run at Paul George?
Believe it or not, one of the teams that some have suggested could look to acquire Paul George for the 2017-18 season is none other than the Utah Jazz. It’s without a doubt a risky move given that PG will more than likely be nothing more than a one-year rental. However, some Jazz fans seem to think it could be worth it if he propels the Jazz to title contention status for 2017-18 and perhaps is even convinced to stay beyond that after tasting the success.
Assuming Gordon Hayward and George Hill were both retained, you’ve got to admit that a core four of Hill, George, Hayward and Rudy Gobert would be a pretty daunting mix. If it was as simple as just adding PG-13 to the roster and calling it a day, you know the Utah Jazz would take it in a heartbeat.
However, that of course is not how things work and the Jazz would not only have to give up some rather crucial pieces to net the Indy All-Star but convincing the Pacers to part with George won’t be easy. The one thing going for the Jazz in this scenario is that Indy does have very little leverage given that teams know all too well how desperate they are to at least get SOMETHING in return for George rather than be left empty-handed in the offseason of 2018.
Also, the Jazz just so happen to have some of the exact pieces that the Pacers may be looking for. TNT’s David Aldridge reported that Indiana is seeking a starter and two first-rounders for Paul George. That’s somewhat of a high asking price for a very likely one-year rental, but it isn’t absolutely absurd.
And the Jazz not only have two first-rounders this year (the #24 and the #30), but they also have plenty of starter caliber players that could be moved. Most of the trade proposals floating around the web have been something along the lines of Derrick Favors, one of Alec Burks/Rodney Hood/Dante Exum, and either both first-round picks from this year, or this year’s #24 and a 2018 pick.
An example of that scenario can be seen in the BBall Breakdown article in the tweet below in a segment by Jesus Gomez.
Personally, upon seeing that idea first proposed, I had to agree with Basketball Insiders’ Ben Dowsett in the following tweet:
Particularly with broken down Alec Burks being the trade piece mentioned in the article above, I don’t think there’s any way that the Pacers have much interest in exchanging George for that. However, switch Burks to Rodney Hood and I do think there is an argument that the Pacers could take the bait.
Indy is likely to lose free agent C.J. Miles this offseason, and adding Rodney Hood (a.k.a. C.J. Miles 2.0) as a younger shooter with more upside could be promising. Derrick Favors could also add some defensive grit to a team that stripped itself of all defensive prowess (minus Paul George) in Larry Bird’s failed run-and-gun experiment. Not to mention, Utah’s picks in a deep draft could turn into quite the prize for a team likely facing a major rebuild.
Of course, Favors, Hood and two picks would be a lot to sacrifice for a player that will more than likely play for one year (with potentially questionable motivation) then depart the team, especially if it doesn’t net a championship. As I mentioned, that core four would be nice, but I honestly still don’t know that it’s enough to topple the behemoth Warriors especially in just one season.
The one circumstance where I see the Jazz pulling the trigger on a deal like this (assuming Indiana would even be interested, of course) is if Dennis Lindsey and Co. are already skeptical that keeping Favors and Hood is part of the long-term plan. Both are on relatively affordable contracts right now (Hood’s much more so than Favors’), but once their deals are up, especially if Utah has both Hayward and Hill on the books, then Hood and Favors may very well be too expensive to retain.
In other words, sure, George is probably going to be a one-year rental, but Favors more than likely is at this point as well (he enters free agency at the same time as PG) and Hood has only one year beyond that (assuming Utah extends him his qualifying offer for 2018-19), then he could potentially be too expensive to bring back as well.
So if the Jazz see it as, “Well, we’re going to let Favors and Hood walk here soon anyway, might as well give ourselves an incredible chance to win a title in 2017-18 while we can,” then I could actually see Lindsey pulling the trigger on this. If he does so, you can bet that Hayward will stick around (at the very least on a 1+1 contract) to play alongside George to see what they can accomplish, and one can only hope that by that point Utah can work its charm on George to stay longer.
Do I think this trade will actually happen? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a slight possibility, but I’m not convinced that the Jazz are ready to throw away Favors and Hood for one year of Paul George and I’m also not sure that it will be the best offer that the Pacers will receive. And if Utah does pull it off, I’m even less confident that George would stay beyond 2017-18, even though one would hope that the winning situation he’d help create would entice him.
The one wild card up the Jazz’s sleeve in that regard, though? Paul George loves fishing. And I happen to know of a lot of great fishing spots in Utah…
Alright, I know, I know, let’s get back to reality. Here’s the second question facing the Jazz in lieu of the PG situation.