All right, Celtics fans: trade speculation time!
By all accounts, Indiana’s young super star, Paul George, is expected to miss the entire 2014-2015 NBA regular season due to the broken leg he suffered this past Saturday during a scrimmage for Team USA.
For a team like Indiana, who has made it to the Eastern Conference Finals two consecutive years, and would love to finally get over the hump and make it back to the NBA Finals, losing a player of George’s caliber could be a death blow. . . except you know that Larry Bird and the rest of the Pacers’ organization will not allow that to happen.
And while I’m not brazen enough to suggest that the Pacers trade George to the Boston Celtics (which would be tanking on Boston’s part, and just plain stupid on Indiana’s), I am here to tell you that Boston and Indiana could help each other out.
What The Pacers Need
Let’s face it: Paul George is almost irreplaceable. His value to the Pacers goes beyond just his numbers; he’s a leader, and his absence will be missed both on and off of the court. Clearly, there is no trade that can make up entirely for his absence. For starters, then, the Pacers are going to want a player who can walk into the locker room and gel with the team almost immediately; no more chemistry problems for the Pacers, one would think.
Beyond that, Indiana needs to find a way to replace George’s stat-stuffing ways: he averaged 21.7 PPG, 6.8 TRB, 3.5 AST, and 1.9 STL per game in 2013-2014 wow. He also attempted 5.8 FTA per night, all of which means there is no single player on the Boston Celtics roster who can single-handedly make up these numbers on a nightly basis for the Pacers.
What The Celtics Need
Every Celtics fan in the world could probably write this paragraph for me: the Boston Celtics need a legitimate starting center, preferably one who can impose his will around the rim. Does that sound about right?
The Celtics ranked 24th and 23rd in the NBA last season in defensive rebounds and blocked shots per game, respectively. Boston is a pretty solid perimeter defensive team, and actually should be BETTER this season, what with Rajon Rondo hopefully playing at full speed, and with the addition of Marcus Smart, who appears to be an absolute monster on the defensive side of things. If only the Celtics had a legit starting center, instead of Tyler Zeller and Vitor Faverani. . .
Remember: I don’t worry about dollars and cents. I just can’t be bothered, for a few reasons: it’s boring, and if teams REALLY want to get a trade done, they will.
Anyway, there are a few players that I could see the Boston Celtics sending Indiana’s way, but no matter how you slice it, Jeff Green absolutely HAS to be included in this package. Is he as good as George? Nope – but again, I said that Boston is going to have to give up a few players in order to make this trade an offer that the Pacers cannot refuse. Green is a reliable third-option, and his 16.9 PPG, 4.6 TRB, 1.7 AST, 0.7 STL and 0.6 BLK per game last year will ease some of Indiana’s pain.
In addition, Boston is going to have to give up a young player like Kelly Olynyk or Jared Sullinger . . . ah, who am I kidding? The Celtics will probably have to surrender Rajon Rondo in order to make this deal go down, because I’m pretty sure the Pacers were not planning on lying down and letting the Cleveland Cavaliers steal the Central Division right out from under their noses, and are almost certainly going to use George’s injury to rally the troops for the 2014-2015 season. Jeff Green and a young player won’t be enough to keep the Pacers competitive in the now ultra-competitive Central Division, but Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo almost certainly will.
So what will the Pacers have to give up? Roy Hibbert, of course. Look – the Pacers were shopping him early in the offseason, and if rumors are to be believed, they are still actively doing so. Indiana is going to need to adapt if the NBA Finals is really its goal, and most of the teams that stand in the Pacers’ way – namely, Cleveland and Chicago – know how to draw opposing centers out of the paint, rendering someone like Hibbert mostly ineffective, anyway. Hell, we’ll give the Pacers Zeller or Faverani if we have to!!!
Yep – I solve problems. Boston has what, seven first-round picks coming up in the next four drafts? They will find a way to replace Rondo, if they have not already done so in Marcus Smart. And the Celtics have pretty much already have replaced Green, first with Evan Turner, and down the road with James Young. Striking while the iron is hot could land the Boston Celtics the true rim-protector it needs.