NBA fans had to know nothing at Thursday’s trade deadline could live up to the fireworks show from earlier in the week.
After all, the Sacramento Kings randomly decided to ship DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans after the All-Star Game, generating plenty of hype, if not controversy, of what the Kings got back in return.
The only thing that could have come close to making the deadline itself as exciting would have been Jimmy Butler or Paul George moving for a monster return. But as the hours turned into minutes ahead of the cutoff, it was easy to see nothing major would get done.
Which isn’t such a bad thing. Now observers can take a step back and look at the aftermath, with some of the leftover rumblings on the mill telling quite the tale. Below are a few of the most notable nuggets making the rounds.
Deron Williams’ Next Move
Believe it or not, Deron Williams was one of the more interesting names on the market right at the deadline.
According to ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein, the Utah Jazz had an interest in bringing back the veteran point guard.
Williams apparently wasn’t having any of it.
Per Stein, Williams has his eyes set on joining LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers:
The rich get richer. From the sounds of it, the Cavaliers will get to add a quality veteran backup behind Kyrie Irving once Williams clears waivers.
Williams is 32 years old, yet he averaged 13.1 points and 6.9 rebounds with the Dallas Mavericks before the team failed to find a suitor and cut him loose. He’s an obvious upgrade on DeAndre Liggins and Kay Felder and has experience playing with James thanks to their time with Team USA.
Barring a surprise, James gets a depth guy he’s clamored for as of late.
Denver Backed Off Paul George Trade
The Denver Nuggets were a surprise entrant in the George sweepstakes.
Denver, eighth in the Western Conference, has a front office apparently tired of spinning the wheels and wanted to make a splash.
Bringing on George would have been one heck of a way to jump-start the franchise, especially if the team could have found a way to hold on to upstart players such as Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
Jokic was never on the table in discussions, though, and according to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, the Indiana Pacers wanting Murray ended the negotiations: “Denver made a solid offer for George, roping in assets from a third team, per league sources, but the Nuggets were hesitant to part with Jamal Murray, sources say.”
Murray’s merits alone make it easy to see why his inclusion in talks screeched them to a halt.
The seventh pick in the 2016 NBA draft has looked strong to start his career, averaging 19.9 minutes per game on the way to 8.7 points, 1.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 38.8 percent from the floor. Stretched out, his points per 40 minutes comes in at 17.5, according to ESPN.com.
In other words, Murray looks like he can match—if not exceed—the hype of his draft position in the backcourt for Denver, provided the team clears names out of his way and lets him start next year.
It’s not often a team hits well on a top-10 pick like Murray. Shipping him away now for George, who isn’t even a lock to stay in town (more on this below), doesn’t make a ton of sense. Greedier franchises might have pulled the trigger, but Denver seems to know better.
Maybe the biggest takeaway here is the fact it is time to take Denver seriously as a team willing to make moves in an effort to compete, not rebuild.
What Comes Next for George?
So George, who has been with the Indiana Pacers since 2010, was just one of the hottest names on the market despite his team—one built around him—sitting in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.
As Lowe noted in his column, it didn’t seem a team really came close to getting George. Maybe the Pacers were just putting out feelers and will get more serious about a trade down the road. After all, he has a player option in 2018, per Spotrac, and he could simply leave town.
This seems to be the general theme around George in the aftermath of the deadline. According to USA Today‘s Sam Amick, the Los Angeles Lakers are the biggest threat to the Pacers keeping their groomed star:
George also doesn’t sound too happy about his name coming up in the first place, or at least the fact he apparently wasn’t involved much in the process, per Amick:
The man has every right to be upset. He’s said in the past he wants to “bring a championship to Indiana” during an interview with Marc Stein on ESPN Radio, while stressing simply overall he wants to compete for titles.
When 2018 hits, the Lakers might look quite a bit better than Indiana in this pursuit. If he hits the open market after more middling performances by the Pacers, a core led by D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle in his hometown, which happens to be one of the league’s most historic locales, would look pretty great.
George is a professional who will do whatever it takes to help the Pacers win. But in large part thanks to the front office flirting with the idea of a move, the shadow of the Lakers will always dampen the outlook for both parties.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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