In anticipation of the 2017 NBA Draft and the free agent signing period following, ESPN basketball analysts Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz have released a podcast exploring potential trades, including several involving Indiana Pacers forward Paul George. George, who recently told his team he will not return once his current contract expires, has inspired a number of rumors, some involving the Portland Trail Blazers. Right around the 40:00 mark of the show, Lowe and Arnovitz begin to focus on Portland and their chances of landing Indiana’s superstar.
Kevin Arnovitz: Portland would be an interesting team but I just don’t know that they would have the confidence that he’d ever stay in Portland.
Even though it’s a great core of young guys, he’d be playing with Damian and CJ, they have a bunch of firsts but I don’t know that they’d have they confidence. They’d have to send out some serious money.
It would be a fun one if you playing purely destination doesn’t matter kind of thing, but not everyone likes food trucks and running trails like I do.
Zach Lowe: I like that you brought up Portland because they’re on my list. And I do think they’ll try.
Arnovitz: Allen Crabbe, Allen Crabbe basically gets you there man in terms of money... Or you package Aminu, Harkless … nice wing combination … some good ass contracts right there.
That gets you to $17-18 (million) and then you’ve got one of the firsts … Maybe two of the firsts and two really good contracts? Look, we know that the Portland Trail Blazers could probably construct the best deal. The question is do they have any confidence that Paul George would stay? Or is it just Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Nurkic...you could win there.
Lowe goes on to talk about Portland’s longer-term future:
Portland can't get free agents, Portland can't sign free agents, Neil has said that publicly. “We'll never get a free agent to come here.” If you ever could, now is the time because, if you get his Bird rights, because, you know, this is... like Damian Lillard, culture setter, popular among his peers. There's something there. I think Portland will try, the’re certainly on my list. Depending on who is sent out you I think you might have to put in three of those firsts, or two of those firsts rather or maybe one of them and and a future first unprotected set for the year that Paul George would not be in Portland if he leaves.
Arnovitz then expresses some skepticism, but comes around:
I’m going to give you the naysayer in the room... The guy’s gonna walk. He’s gonna walk... If he walks, what do they have next summer to work with? Are they still screwed? They’re already on the books for 122 [million]. They’re still over the cap next summer, barely...they could get under but they’re still at the water level.
But all you’ve lost is Aminu and Harkless, good contributors but you still have your core...your three best players intact, long-term. But you’re minus your picks. You give one of your extra picks this summer and one of your future picks next summer so you aren’t completely cleaned out. I mean... it might be worth the risk.
There’s plenty more in the podcast itself about this issue, the trade between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers for the first overall pick, and more. Give it a listen and stay tuned as the Paul George saga continues...with or without the Blazers.