Paul George was one of the two biggest names available on the market at the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline, and his skill set would make a lot of sense with the current members of the Sixers’ core. It should come as no surprise, then, that the team made what multiple sources described as a “significant” offer for the Olympian wing.
Bird knows he is on the clock with George. The Lakers loom as a threat in free agency. The Pacers engaged at least the Celtics, Sixers, Hawks and Nuggets in trade talks for George at the deadline, though they never appeared serious about moving him, per league sources.
Standoffish though Larry Bird may have been, the Sixers did indeed make an offer for the Pacers forward. Multiple sources told Liberty Ballers the Sixers offered Indiana their choice of one of the Sixers’ young bigs, Robert Covington, and at least two first round picks for his services.
According to multiple sources, the Sixers’ preference was to keep their own future picks and move the draft rights of other teams — like those of the Lakers and Kings — in an effort to protect themselves against George leaving. However, the Sixers were not turned off by George’s reported preference to play for the Lakers, according to one member of the organization, and believed they could sell George on staying with the Sixers long-term by enticing him to play with their promising core players. As a result, their own picks beyond the 2017 Draft were not untouchable, per sources.
Amongst the people Liberty Ballers spoke to, there was not a consensus on which big man was most prominently involved in the trade equation. One source said it was specifically Nerlens Noel being offered in the package alongside Covington and the first-round picks, but others painted a more flexible picture on the Sixers’ behalf, believing Jahlil Okafor would have been the man to go if it made the difference on Indiana’s end.
Though one of the proposed pieces of the deal was subsequently moved on to Dallas, the Sixers could very well be involved with George again down the line, whether in trade discussions or 2018 free agency. A deal for George would have made for a significantly different deadline, and the degree of their interest in an immediate impact player should be taken seriously when assessing how they’ll approach the market this summer.