After finishing with the best record in the East – and promptly losing to the Cavaliers in the conference finals in five games – the Boston Celtics are reportedly trying to land Paul George and Gordon Hayward.
Not one or the other, but both.
Can the Celtics do that?
“Yeah, they can – and that’s their plan,” Forbes and Sporting News NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They want to get a commitment from Hayward, see if they can get him first as a free agent, and then you’re going to have to spend some of those assets. Danny Ainge is hoarding these No. 1 picks like they’re gold. Now he’s got some real ammo to go after Paul George.”
The kicker, of course, is that George becomes a free agent in 2018 and hasn’t been bashful about his desire to play for the Lakers.
“We all know Danny Ainge is not just going to take a rental for one year,” Lawrence said. “It would have to be a deal where he finds out from George before making the deal that George would sign an extension for three or four years. So it’s possible he sends a package to Indiana – young players, a draft pick or two – to get a Paul George, but only if he knows Paul George will be there for more than a year. Then he would have Paul George, Hayward, Isaiah Thomas and a combination of players.”
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Boston’s wooing of George may force Magic Johnson’s hand. Instead of simply signing George as a free agent in 2018, the Lakers may need to trade for him now.
“Does this now force Magic to get involved in the bidding and send a guy like Brandon Ingram over to Indiana to try to get Paul George?” Lawrence asked. “Look, if you’re Magic Johnson and you’ve got a chance to get Paul George, you got Lonzo Ball – and by the way, LeBron James is rumored to be going out there after next season – then you don’t need Brandon Ingram. LeBron James seems to be in play for the summer of 2018, and he could be going out to the Lakers too to join Paul George.”