Paul George is a wanted man.
The Pacers small forward will be the apple of every NBA GM's eyes next summer when he can opt out of the five-year, $91-million deal he signed in 2013. The year between the time he can actually hit the free-agent market isn't stopping those interested parties from attempting to woo him now. The California native is already being
harassed courted by Lakers fans while on vacation.
Now, players are shooting their shot. The Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum is openly recruiting the 6-7 George to join him and fellow sharpshooter Damian Lillard in Portland.
McCollum had already said he'd like to see his team land George on Twitter. Tuesday, he reiterated his affections for the small forward, who averaged a career-high 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds while helping the Pacers qualify for the playoffs for the second straight season since missing the postseason in 2014-15 when George missed nearly all of the season with a compound fracture in his right leg. In an interview on SportsNet New York reporter Taylor Rooks' podcast, McCollum said he's spoken with George about his rise to stardom and shared his thoughts on what George could bring to Portland.
Peep the exchange:
Rooks: Paul George. You want Paul George to be a Blazer?
McCollum: I think this is tampering. At this point, I tweeted it. So, we have to be careful with what we say. I don't know what type of viewership we're facing here, gonna face right now with this."
McCollum: I read something that said I could get tampering. I don't want to get fined $25,000.
Rooks: I'm with you. I mean, even though you got that $100 million. You don't want to get fined.
McCollum: You gotta be smart about it. I don't want Mr. (Trail Blazers owner Paul) Allen being upset at me. They asked me a question on Twitter. They said, 'Who would you like to see?' and I was like, '@YGTrece.' Why not?
He would look good in red and black that’s all.
George was also sought after by the Lakers and Celtics among others before the NBA trade deadline.
His versatility on offense and defense would be a welcome addition to the Trail Blazers roster. George can score at the rim, from midrange and behind the 3-point line, and he would make an immediate impact. Putting him in a lineup that already includes McCollum (23.0 points per game) and Lillard (27.0 points, 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game) would give Portland a 1-2-3 combination that all shoots close to better than 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
For the Trail Blazers, the eight seed in the Western Conference playoffs this past season, the triumvirate would put them in position to avoid another brutal first-round matchup like they had this year against the Warriors. It'd be a significant upgrade at the wing position over former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner (9.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.8 apg), whom the Blazers inexplicably signed to a four-year, $70-million deal this past offseason, only to see him lose his starting gig to Mo Harkless (10.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
Al-Farouq Aminu ranked in the top 10 in postseason scoring among small forwards, averaging a dozer points per night in four games against the Warriors, but in a conference that features elite scorers at the position like Kawhi Leonard (29.7), Gordon Hayward (22.3) and Kevin Durant (19.7), Portland needs to load up.
McCollum is well aware.
“It takes a lot more than one good player, two good players, three good players," he said. "You need to have a collective unit. Obviously, Paul George would help any team in the NBA.”