Many fans around the league, including many Boston fans, seem to think that the Celtics needed to acquire Paul George and that Danny Ainge completely whiffed when he was unable to do so. However, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes that has been revealed that took place during the process of trying to trade for Paul George.
At the trade deadline, Ainge offered to swap picks in the 2017 draft (which would have equated to the number one overall pick for Indiana) but Larry Bird turned it down. On draft night, Ainge offered three non-Brooklyn and non-Lakers/Kings first round picks and two starters. One of those players had been confirmed as being Jae Crowder and the other was rumored to be Avery Bradley. But once again, the GM for the Pacers, this time Kevin Pritchard, said no. So to sum that potential deal; the Celtics would have received Paul George and the Pacers would have received three first round picks, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley. The Pacers were clearly sending the message that they were looking to tank the second Paul George was on the market, but receiving one of the best contracts in the NBA (Crowder is due only 6.7 million dollars this year), one of the best two-way players in the league in Bradley, and a haul of picks would have given the Pacers flexibility should they had decided to simply re-tool and compete this upcoming season.
In order to try to pressure Danny Ainge into essentially outbidding himself, Pritchard got a third team involved in trade talks and called up Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti. Personally, the way I think things played out is that Ainge called Pritchard’s bluff and refused to up the offer. Pritchard then decided to ‘teach Ainge a lesson’ by trading with Oklahoma City. However, this trade hurts the Pacers a TON. Sure, the Pacers received a young and established post player in Domantas Sabonis and a versatile guard in Victor Oladipo, but would you have traded those two for Crowder, Bradley, and three first round picks? NO. WAY. The two offers are clearly unequal with Celtics clearly having made the better offer to the Pacers. Pritchard was too blinded in dealing with Ainge and trying to milk the Celtics of the abundance of assets they have, that he jumped the gun and made a bad trade for his franchise. The real reason the Pacers hurt themselves in this deal is that they had to absorb Oladipo’s contract of 21 million dollars until 2021 when his contract expires. To put that in perspective; Paul George is only making 19.5 million this season.
Many fans around the league that I see on various social media sites seem to find it almost entertaining that Ainge was foolish enough to not trade for Paul George. Many Celtics fans are calling for Ainge’s head. However, the reality is that it would have been irresponsible for Ainge to have increased his offer for Paul George given he was already set to give up two starters and three first round picks. It is my firm belief that the Pacers were the ones that got robbed in this trade, and the best part is that they did it to themselves. It was a wise decision for Ainge to make considering that George will become a free agent after this upcoming season making trading for him a huge risk to begin with. It is clear as day that giving up more than what Ainge originally offered for a potential one- year rental would have been a terrible trade, if it wasn’t already. As a Celtics fan, I am disappointed we do not have PG13, but at least he isn’t playing for an Eastern Conference rival. What do you think of the Paul George trade? Who really ‘lost’ on this deal?