No question Pat Riley and the Miami Heat would love to acquire a player of Paul George’s ilk via trade this summer but some are strangely contemplating the cost.
George is easily among the league’s Top 10 players and among the most feared two-way wings in the NBA. Considering he’s probably not going to make an All-NBA team this year, which would halt his ability to sign a super-max contract with Indiana, it’s not implausible to see the Pacers shop him hard in the offseason, especially after getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers. They will not risk losing him for nothing in the Summer of 2018 if he’s showing serious signs of wanting out of Indiana.
While the 26-year-old’s mouth got him into some trouble this postseason over some highly questionably comments regarding his teammates, his game represents that of the prototypical wing, one who can create, defend, and shoot with efficiency. I ranked George third on a list of Heat whale targets and this ranking includes the likely unattainable Kevin Durant. The only other name he’s behind is Gordon Hayward, who is an impending free agent and thus a far simpler potential acquisition.
The Paul George-to-Miami discussion came up on 560 WQAM this morning with host Orlando “Big O” Alzugaray weighting the matter with the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. While George would be O’s No. 1 target, he shockingly would not trade Hassan Whiteside OR Goran Dragic to land him.
“No, no, that’s addition by subtraction,” Big O said when asked if he’d trade Whiteside for George. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
And Dragic: “No, because you can’t because without Goran right now you don’t have somebody to facilitate the offense and get everybody into position.”
He wouldn’t trade either of Miami’s very-good-to-great players for a superstar?
Pat Riley would… in a heartbeat.
I would… in a heartbeat.
The hesitancy feels somewhat like the folks who didn’t want to part with Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and Caron Butler in a package for Shaquille O’Neal in 2014. But as the postseason shows us time and time again, you worry about landing the superstar first–period. And this is merely a hypothetical player-for-player swap, which makes Big O’s thinking even stranger, especially after stating he’d be his top target.
The true contenders — the final four teams — will each have a minimum of one superstar on the roster. Hysterically, if you don’t have at least one special player (think Top 15 talent), you’re not getting to the Conference Finals.
If the Heat were to acquire George without giving up Dragic, who I think is Miami’s best overall player, that’d be a moonshot of a home run. And if they had to include Dragic instead of Whiteside? That’s fine too. I love Goran but he’s no superstar and doesn’t impact the game quite the same way George does on both ends.
A potential deal that’d make sense for both sides if Indiana covets Miami’s intriguing center? Whiteside, Miami’s first-rounder (which only be dealt on draft night), and another young player (Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, or whoever the hell Indiana wants) for George and scraps.
Miami would feature a core of George and Dragic heading into Free Agency, with enough cap space to land Gordon Hayward or Durant. Even if they failed on the second whale, they could bring back James Johnson and/or Dion Waiters and still contend in the east.
Some might say you’re then risking losing George to Los Angeles or elsewhere the following summer but Riley doesn’t make the deal unless he’s confident he will stay. Dragic was recently acquired under a similar scenario. As was Shaquille O’Neal before him in addition to Alonzo Mourning.
Playing a full season within Miami’s system and culture would surely help sway George to make Miami his long-term home the following summer. I’d flip almost any combination of players on the roster for Paul George because he is a special talent with the potential to become a Top 5 player.
The Miami Heat doesn’t possess anyone of that caliber and will not become a true contender again until they do.
— KaWhistle Leonard (@mikescriba) April 23, 2017