The Indiana Pacers did not make any deals before last Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t numerous trade discussions involving the Pacers. The Boston Celtics were said to have been negotiating with Indiana on a potential Paul George trade, but Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird and Celtics general manager Danny Ainge could not come to an agreement.
NESN reports that about an hour before the trade deadline, Bird and Ainge were discussing the structure of a potential trade for Indiana’s All-Star small forward. Bird allegedly told Ainge that he wanted three players from the following group: small forward Jae Crowder, shooting guard Avery Bradley, point guard Marcus Smart, or small forward Jaylen Brown. Bird also asked for the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in 2017 that Boston owns the rights to, which is currently projected to be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The Celtics decided to pass on the proposal, in part because of the high cost, but also because they are not confident that George would re-sign with Boston in the summer of 2018 when he can opt out of his current contract. Both the Pacers and the Celtics seemed to play their hands wisely — Indiana would only deal George if they received a blockbuster package in return, and Boston was not going to take the risk of making a trade for Paul George unless the price was low enough to justify that gamble.
Now that the trade deadline has passed and the Pacers’ roster has remained intact, players can stop worrying about possibly being traded and focus all of their energy on playing basketball. In the team’s first game after the NBA All-Star break, Paul George received a loud chorus of cheers as he was introduced to the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse before Indiana’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. According to the Indianapolis Star, George was affected by the support from local fans in attendance.
“It was an emotional moment to be honest, even running out of the tunnel, I couldn’t help but have a little smirk from them just being happy and cheering, them being really happy for me continuing my career here. I felt that. I felt a little queasy going out, but that’s the reason why I love being here. That’s love that I love here.”
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Indiana played well and defeated the Grizzlies 102-92 after leading by as many as 27 points in the third quarter. The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Pacers, who will now move on to Miami to take on the resurgent Heat Saturday night. There has been a great deal of drama surrounding the Indiana Pacers as of late, but for one night, there were smiles all around.
There has been quite a bit of media criticism directed at Larry Bird after the Pacers failed to make any personnel changes at the trade deadline. However, if no beneficial deals were available, Bird did the right thing by standing pat. Vigilant Sports opines that sometimes “no move is the best move,” and in this instance, that could very well be the case. Barring a monster offer for Paul George, Indiana went into the trade deadline hoping to add some veteran talent to aid George and his teammates. It appears that no advantageous trades were out there, so Bird chose to go with the group of players he currently has.
SB Nation discusses the state of the Indiana Pacers, calling the current situation “a mess” and doling out blame to team owner Herb Simon, Larry Bird, and Paul George. There is certainly a lot of posturing going on from all sides, but there is also a lot at stake for everyone involved. The Pacers just want to do what is best for their franchise. Paul George has said he wants to stay in Indiana, but ultimately, he is looking out for himself — which is understandable, as long as he’s fully committed and does everything he can to help the team win while he’s a Pacer.
All that matters now is having everyone work together in an effort to move up in the standings, and have the best playoff run possible. If the Indiana Pacers are able to focus on that for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, the franchise will be in good shape. Winning has a tendency to cure all ills, so that is all anyone associated with the team should be concerned with as we move into the stretch run.[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]