The Boston Celtics are pursuing an aggressive summer plan of sequencing the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward and relinquishing the assets needed to complete a trade for Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.
For salary-cap purposes, Boston wants a Hayward commitment before it can finalize a trade for George and secure the most dynamic free-agent coup in franchise history, league sources said.
For Boston, here’s the hitch: While Indiana believes Boston can offer the best possible package, the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until the start of July free agency on Boston’s timetable and could turn toward making a deal elsewhere for George, league sources told The Vertical.
Boston has maneuvering to do with its roster, including the shedding of salaries to create space to position itself for this scenario. Boston has contingencies in place to make deals and start a possible Hayward-George scenario toward fruition, league sources told The Vertical.
If Boston can’t acquire Hayward, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin could be a substitute in this free-agency plan to sign a star and then trade for George, league sources told The Vertical.
Utah is fighting to hold onto Hayward in free agency, but is exploring multiple scenarios to reshape the roster should the All-Star forward leave the franchise. The Jazz are working to upgrade the roster, including point guard, before July 1 when Hayward will start taking meetings with Boston and Miami in free agency, league sources said.
Indiana has been focused on trying to complete a deal with Boston for George, league sources told The Vertical. The sides were growing close to a deal on draft night, but a third-team scenario fell through late in the evening that stalled talks. Indiana is desirous of the young players and future draft picks that Boston is uniquely able to offer the Pacers for George.
The Celtics have a growing confidence they could sign George to a contract extension, and keep him from leaving to his predetermined free-agent destination of the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told The Vertical. Boston’s belief that it can make George more than a one-year rental is fueling the franchise’s willingness to part with a significant package of assets, league sources said.
Indiana could potentially allow George and his representation to speak to potential suitors about a contract extension should a trade happen, but that permission hasn’t been granted yet, league sources told The Vertical.
George, 27, informed the Pacers on June 17 that he planned to leave the Pacers in 2018 as a free agent, and his preference was to sign a deal with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
George is a four-time All-Star and one of the NBA’s elite two-way players.
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