Paul George: Could the Milwaukee Bucks make a deal for PG-13?

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Paul George is up for grabs. Could/should the Milwaukee Bucks involve themselves in the negotiations for his services?

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Paul George is being actively shopped by the Indiana Pacers after PG-13 let Indiana know he’s not interested in sticking around once his contract expires in the summer of 2018.

George has long since been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, and will have a lot of interest in joining the Lakers once he leaves Indiana–or wherever he ends up, as it appears the Pacers have no interest in letting George walk for free.

Woj refers to the term ‘rentals’ because of the expectation that PG would leave after one season wherever he’s dealt, presumably to head for Los Angeles. Of course any team that acquired George would have a chance to win him over in the season he’s got to spend there, but there’s a very real chance a trade is made for one season of Paul George.

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That all being said, could–and more importantly, should–the Milwaukee Bucks get involved here? The Bucks haven’t been mentioned as a team negotiating with Indiana, but that doesn’t mean the team is out of the running completely.

The Pacers would like a big haul for George–something like multiple starting caliber players and a draft pick has been floated. They’re not going to get a huge haul for a player who might leave after a season, but don’t the Bucks seems like a team that could handle trading those assets right now?

It’s a great problem to have for Milwaukee, but right now there’s not room for a point guard plus Tony Snell, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker to all start. The Bucks could move one of Middleton/Parker, one role player (Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, John Henson or Malcolm Brogdon) and a draft pick for George.

Is that enough for the Pacers? That depends largely on how they feel about the first choice in the hypothetical deal. If Indiana loved Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton, that deal might be appealing to the Pacers, who can’t get young, talented players and a first round pick from Cleveland, or most other contending teams outside of the Boston Celtics.

The bigger question is if the Bucks want to take the risk of giving up real assets to get Paul George for a year. Obviously if the Bucks could flip Delly and Mirza for Paul George they’d do it in a heartbeat–it will cost more than that, though.

Unless Milwaukee got ridiculous with the draft picks included in a deal, one of Khris or Jabari would almost certainly have to be included in a deal for a player of Paul George’s caliber. Let’s look at the pros and cons of making that kind of deal.

Obviously the biggest pro is how much higher Milwaukee’s ceiling gets with Paul freaking George on the team. A starting lineup of Brogdon, Snell, PG-13, Giannis and Thon is one of the best units in the Eastern Conference, and immediately makes Milwaukee a contender.

George has never played with someone of Giannis’ caliber, and vice versa. George’s best teammate to date has probably been either prime Roy Hibbert or prime Lance Stephenson, while Giannis’ best teammate has been … Jabari earlier last season? Middleton the season before?

The one-two punch of George-Giannis would be a dynamic duo second only to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, and the length and athleticism of a George-Giannis-Thon frontcourt would almost certainly make Milwaukee one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. That’s not even mentioning how damn good the offense would be if opposing teams had to worry about both of Milwaukee’s lengthy, All-Star forwards.

The upside here is massive. If the Bucks could get five years of Paul George, the trade seems too good to pass up. Unfortunately, Milwaukee would only be guaranteed one season if they pulled the trigger on PG-13.

That means the Bucks might be giving up on a foundational piece, a draft pick and a solid role player for one good season, and then nada. The step back from having Paul George to not having him would be massive, especially considering the Bucks would have no way to get anything for him after the season.

The best case scenario here is the Bucks swap for Paul George, he falls in love with Milwaukee and with playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, realizes he’s got a chance to outlast LeBron here and that the Greek Freak is way better than anybody the Lakers have, and he re-signs in Milwaukee for five more years. Titles ensue.

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The worst case scenario is not so rosy. The Bucks deal one of Khris or Jabari for one year of Paul George, who has a decent season but the Bucks still get bumped in one of the first two rounds of the postseason.

PG then leaves for Los Angeles. The combination of giving up a great young player and George getting some of his love angers Giannis, who begins to resent the Bucks, a feeling which intensifies as the team regresses greatly in the first year of the post-Paul George era. Titles do not ensue.

The gambler John Hammond might be willing to roll the dice, even with the swing between ceiling and floor being as huge as it is in this situation for Milwaukee. We’ll see how Jon Horst feels about it quite soon, but suffice to say, unless George can be had for a song there’s likely just too much risk involved here for the Milwaukee Bucks to make an offer to Indiana.

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Still, watching him play next to Giannis Antetokounmpo would be one hell of a sight.