Paul George

Cavs Rumors: George, Butler, Billups, James

While the front office is in a state of upheaval, the Cavs are continuing to work the phones to shake up the roster, as Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net reports. With GM David Griffin out of the picture, front office holdovers Koby Altman and Mike Gansey are on the verge of making multiple trades, including a potential blockbuster, Amico continues. They are still trying to acquire Pacers All-Star forward Paul George despite George’s well-documented desire to play for the Lakers when his contract expires after next season, Amico adds.

Some other nuggets from Amico:

  • The Cavs are far apart in any talks with the Bulls to acquire All-Star Jimmy Butler but there is no traction to rumors that Cleveland players have told Butler to “stay away” from the organization.
  • Chauncey Billups has been offered the top executive position and members of the organization anticipate he’ll take the job, despite reservations about leaving ESPN. He’ll make a decision today or Friday.
  • LeBron James has been receiving updates about the team’s plans to upgrade the roster.
  • James wasn’t mad, just surprised, about owner Dan Gilbert’s inability to come to an extension agreement with Griffin.

Eastern Notes: Howard, Hawks, Wade, Wizards

Tuesday’s trade between Atlanta and Charlotte, which sent Dwight Howard to the Hornets for an underwhelming package that included Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli, signaled to many that Howard’s value is at a low point. While that may be the case, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is confident that he can help Howard become an All-Star caliber player again, as Steve Reed of The Associated Press (via The Charlotte Observer) details.

“I know what he has to do to play well,” Clifford said of Howard, whom he coached as an assistant in Orlando and Los Angeles. “He understands that I know him. I know his game. Being around him in different settings I have a feel for what he likes to do… There is no reason he can’t get back to playing at a really high level.”

While we wait to see if Clifford can help Howard rebound after his stint in Atlanta ended with the big man complaining about his role, here are a few more notes from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Howard trade between Atlanta and Charlotte will leave the Hawks with a modest trade exception. Atlanta’s new TPE will be worth $4,346,942, and will be the fourth – and largest – trade exception available to the team, as our list of TPEs shows.
  • Asked why he decided to exercise his player option to remain with the Bulls, a candid Dwyane Wade told David Aldridge of TNT that there were “24 million reasons” (Twitter link). Wade’s option will pay him $23.8MM next season.
  • The Wizards have reportedly expressed interest in Paul George, and John Wall is on board with the idea of acquiring the Pacers star. However, a trade for George is a long shot, since a sign-and-trade of Otto Porter would be tricky and the inclusion of Bradley Beal is, of course, a non-starter, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.

Paul George Trade May Not Happen Before The Draft

The Pacers have talked to several teams about trading star forward Paul George, but don’t feel pressured to complete a deal before Thursday’s draft, writes Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star.

Team president Kevin Pritchard has had discussions with the Rockets, Cavaliers and Lakers about moving George, and the Wizards and Clippers have also expressed interest. However, the Pacers haven’t liked any of the offers enough to move forward with a deal.

George has been on the trading block since his agent told the Pacers on Saturday that he plans to opt out of his contract next summer and prefers to join the Lakers.

The Pacers are hoping trade offers will improve tomorrow afternoon in anticipation of the draft. However, George’s public statements about wanting to go to L.A. are limiting what teams are willing to part with.

A source told Taylor that the Pacers may decide to listen to offers all summer, and maybe into training camp, before making a deal. Another source speculated that George’s value will continue to drop the longer the Pacers wait.

After Tuesday’s trade with the Nets, the Lakers reportedly offered Indiana both the 27th and 28th pick along with their choice of Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson in exchange for George. A source said the Pacers are holding out for a significantly better offer.

Another source said that George wouldn’t object to playing for the Pacers next season if no deal is completed.

Central Notes: George, Pistons, Cavs, Bucks

With reports that Paul George intends to explore free agency after next season, with his hometown Lakers as his preferred destination, concerns over possible tampering have surfaced. However, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes that the Pacers are unlikely to pursue any tampering charges against the Lakers.

Team president Magic Johnson alluded to George’s situation during a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, and cryptically tweeted “God is so good!” this week shortly after the George’s plans to leave Indiana were reported. However, the Pacers are more concerned with getting value for their All-Star rather than stirring up issues in Los Angeles, according to Taylor.

Taylor adds that new Pacers president Kevin Pritchard hopes to have a trade for George in place ahead of Thursday’s draft.

Below are additional notes from the Central Division:

Lakers, Pacers Engage On Paul George Talks

8:40pm: The Lakers engaged the Kings on a potential trade that would have involved the No. 2 pick going to Sacramento in exchange for Nos. 5 and 10, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links). According to Aldridge, the Lakers’ goal was to package one of those Kings’ picks with one of the Lakers’ late first-rounders and a player in an effort to get George. However, the Kings turned them down.

Meanwhile, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the Lakers and Pacers are currently at a “standstill” in their talks, though it remains “highly likely” that Indiana will move George this week.

6:11pm: In the wake of their trade agreement with the Nets, the Lakers have offered the Pacers either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in exchange for George, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). ESPN’s Marc Stein also reported the details of that package (via Twitter).

1:56pm: The Lakers and Pacers have engaged on trade talks for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. No deal is imminent at this point.

Los Angeles is considered George’s likely destination in 2018, raising questions about how aggressive the Lakers would be on the trade market for him. If the Lakers expect George to sign with them as a free agent a year from now, there would be little reason for the club to pursue him now and give up key assets to land him. However, it appears the Lakers are at least kicking the tires on what it would take to acquire George and get him in the fold sooner rather than later.

As for what the Lakers may be willing to offer, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the club isn’t expected to put the No. 2 overall pick or Brandon Ingram on the table. Wojnarowski said that a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick might be the most the Lakers are open to giving up, though there’s no indication yet that those are the players being discussed by the two teams.

D’Angelo Russell is another player the Lakers could make available in George talks — ESPN’s Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that the team may be dangling Russell in an effort to pick up another lottery pick. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (via Twitter) that’s not accurate, noting that Russell and George share an agent, who would likely prefer to see his two clients together in L.A. (Twitter link) — Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) confirms as much. For what it’s worth, Randle is an Aaron Mintz client as well.

If the Lakers and Pacers make a serious effort to work out a deal, don’t expect Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov to be involved. The Lakers are resisting that sort of salary dump at this point, since it would cost them draft picks or a young player, tweets Wojnarowski. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that removing Deng and/or Mozgov from the Lakers’ cap likely won’t become a priority until 2018, when the team goes after free agents.

While the Lakers are George’s preferred destination, a number of teams are reportedly exploring the possibility of landing the star forward, even as a one-year rental. The Clippers, Cavaliers, and Rockets have been cited as possible trade partners for Indiana, and according to Amico Hoops, the Wizards are also investigating the possibility of a deal.

Bulls Becoming More Open To Jimmy Butler Trade

8:32pm: Butler’s preference to remain in Chicago has been made clear to the Bulls’ front office in addition to the Cavs, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today adds (via Twitter) that a trade between Chicago and Cleveland appears unlikely at this point. Still, Johnson tweets that the Bulls remain active in Butler talks.

7:28pm: The Cavaliers have been notified that Butler would like to stay with the Bulls and would be reluctant to commit to a long-term future in Cleveland, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. If the Cavs are able to complete a deal for Butler, I imagine they’d do so without a long-term commitment from the forward, but his desire to remain in Chicago is still a factor they’ll have to consider.

4:33pm: Just one day after Bulls sources suggested that the team likely wouldn’t move Jimmy Butler this week, the odds of a trade appear to be increasing. The Bulls have typically just been willing to listen on Butler inquiries to gauge his value, but they’re now making outgoing calls to teams about the star forward, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

According to Goodwill, the Celtics and Cavaliers are the frontrunners to land Butler if a deal gets done this week. The Suns have been “doing due diligence,” league sources tell Goodwill. The Nuggets were somewhat involved on Butler at the trade deadline, per CSN’s report, though it’s not clear if they’re jumping into the fray this time around. The Timberwolves were also mentioned on Monday as a possible trade partner for Chicago.

Butler has publicly expressed a desire to remain in Chicago, but Goodwill writes that the relationship between the All-NBA forward and head coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t been “fruitful,” which is one reason the Bulls appear to be legitimately considering moving Butler. Goodwill also suggests that the club may be reluctant to pay Butler a super-max Designated Veteran Extension if he becomes eligible for one next summer.

According to Goodwill, the Bulls were “rebuffed” on an offer to the Celtics for the No. 3 overall pick, straight up. I would expect Chicago to be seeking more than just that one pick in return for Butler, so if that’s true, it’s a surprise. Goodwill adds that bringing the Cavs to the negotiating table figures to increase the quality of the offers for Butler.

An earlier report indicated that the Cavs were attempting earlier this week to work out a three-team Butler trade that would see a third team receive Kevin Love, with a high lottery pick going from that club to the Bulls.

Although the Suns were believed to be the third team in that scenario, and John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirms (via Twitter) that the Cavs had interest in Phoenix’s No. 4 pick, Gambadoro says those discussions didn’t involve Love (Twitter link). While that may be true, it would be virtually impossible for the Cavs to pry away a top-five pick for the Bulls without using Love, so I have to think he’d be involved somehow.

Those Butler discussions with the Cavs took place before GM David Griffin departed from the franchise. However, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Griffin left behind the framework for possible deals involving Butler or Paul George, so owner Dan Gilbert and assistant GM Koby Altman – essentially the Cavs’ acting GM – could continue to work on those deals.

Woj’s Latest: Pacers, George, Lakers, Knicks

Before Paul George‘s camp informed the Pacers that George expects to opt out and leave Indiana next year, the team had been considering pursuing some notable free agents, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. On his latest podcast with Bobby Marks, Wojnarowski identifies point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Danilo Gallinari as a pair of veterans being eyed by the Pacers.

However, according to Wojnarowski, George didn’t want the Pacers to make major moves for his benefit this offseason, locking themselves into big free agent contracts in the hopes that he would be willing to re-sign. With George’s days in Indiana now numbered, the club will likely forgo its potential pursuit of free agents like Holiday and Gallinari.

Here are some more highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks, which centered on George but touched on a few other topics as well:

  • Although Larry Bird is no longer the Pacers‘ president, he’s still a consultant for the team, and he likely wants to avoid sending George to his old rivals in Los Angeles for pennies on the dollar, Wojnarowski observes. Still, Wojnarowski and Marks don’t expect George’s camp to help accommodate a trade to any team besides the Lakers, since the star forward may simply prefer to stay with the Pacers for one more season rather than being sent to a team he’ll likely leave in a year.
  • The Lakers won’t offer Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 overall pick in a package for George, according to Wojnarowski, who predicts that L.A. wouldn’t offer the Pacers more than some combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick.
  • As the Lakers look ahead to the 2018 offseason, which could see them going after top free agents like George and LeBron James, they’ll want to clear Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng from their books. However, Wojnarowski says the only way that will happen is if the club is willing to attach a first-round pick or a talented young player like D’Angelo Russell to one of those bad contracts. Using the stretch provision on the duo in the summer of 2018 probably makes more sense for L.A.
  • In Wojnarowski’s view, the door was open for the Knicks to be in the Chris Paul discussion this summer, since there’s no perfect fit for CP3 if he wants to leave the Clippers. In theory, the Knicks could have been that fit, but with Phil Jackson and the triangle around, nobody is talking about wanting to play in New York, says Woj.
  • Continuing his discussion of the Knicks, Wojnarowski suggests that Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony has soured many veterans on New York. In particular, Anthony’s friends like Paul, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade view Carmelo’s situation as a cautionary tale, and that view seems to be widely shared around the NBA.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Cleveland Floated As Possible George Destination

8:39pm: The Pacers are asking all teams for trade ideas but would ideally net a pair of first-round picks and a starter, David Aldridge of TNT tweets.

Regardless, Zach Lowe of ESPN adds that the club is intent on finding a deal fast.

6:42pm: As we broke down earlier today, Paul George has informed the Pacers that he doesn’t intend to return to the franchise when he hits free agency next offseason. Although the Lakers appear to be the forward’s preferred destination, one place he could end up in the meantime is Cleveland, as Adrian Wojnarowski writes for The Vertical and Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio confirms.

Not surprisingly, after receiving word that George has no intention of returning to the Pacers, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has been aggressively seeking trade partners potentially interested in a rental. Considering that, per Nate Jones of the Indianapolis Star, Pritchard only learned about this Saturday, it’s been a busy 24 hours.

While Wojnarowski writes that the Cavaliers lack the young players and lucrative draft picks that the Pacers may seek for George, they’re one of the few teams who could directly benefit from what appears likely to be a simple one-year All-Star rental.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com quickly weighed in on the revelation that Cleveland and Indiana have been in touch, going so far as to suggest that the Cavs could dangle Kevin Love. Still, Vardon cautions, even that may be too much for a player apparently destined to leave for Los Angeles.

An inevitable George departure in 2018, though, may not be so inevitable after all. Vardon adds that competing in the NBA Finals next season (something Cleveland has made a habit of recently) could convince George to stick around in Ohio.

It’s a theory shared by Bobby Marks of The Vertical, who tweets that the Lakers may not want to sit idly by under the assumption that George will end up in Los Angeles next summer.

Sitting on the sideline for Paul George could backfire in Los Angeles,” he tweets. “Short term could turn long-term when surrounded by a championship level team.

At the end of the day, speculation will continue to pour in surrounding George’s eventual departure, inevitably casting the Pacers into temporary chaos. In the mind of Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star, however, the Pacers can only blame themselves for where they find themselves.

Way to miss the essence of Paul George. Way to miss the obviously closing, now completely shut window to salvage your franchise. Way to doom the Pacers to irrelevance for the foreseeable future,” the scribe pens.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.
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