NBA free agency begins at midnight, and signings will be fast and furious. Waiting for some dominoes to fall early – Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin – everyone’s attention will turn to the Paul George sweepstakes. Will Boston or Cleveland or Miami or Houston “rent” George and then try to convince him to stay?
Or will the Lakers – his preferred destination – get him on the cheap? Or might Indiana just – gasp! – keep him, and lose him for nothing?
If ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s report is any indication, time is certainly ticking for the Pacers, who have no leverage:
"Despite reports to the contrary, Boston has not included any of the following in its offers to the Pacers, per league sources: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, the 2018 Nets pick, and the Lakers-Kings pick Boston snared from Philly in the Markelle Fultz blockbuster. My best guess on Boston’s standing George offer: Jae Crowder, Smart and Indiana’s choice of protected first-round picks Boston owns from the Clippers and Grizzlies. That doesn’t meet Indiana’s goal of nabbing a top-10 pick or an equivalent talent. The Celtics will be reluctant to bid any higher given the risk of George bolting to the Lakers in a year."
So basically, Danny Ainge doesn’t want to overpay. Which is smart, given Paul George may just depart at season’s end. Also, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook are bigger difference-makers than Paul George.