Pacers small forward Paul George has been the subject of many trade rumors ever since the trade deadline. One of the teams that made a hard run for George in February was the Atlanta Hawks. Back then, all we knew was the Hawks proposed an “aggressive” package revolving around draft picks, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The Atlanta Hawks made aggressive draft pick-centric trade offers for Paul George and Jimmy Butler today, league sources tell ESPN.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 23, 2017
Now we know just how aggressive the offer was. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Hawks offered four first-round picks for the Pacers star:
Several teams made trade offers for George in February, including the Atlanta Hawks, who offered four first-round picks in exchange for him.
You can understand why the Hawks wanted George so badly. He’s a 27-year-old, two-way wing who gave LeBron James a tough matchup (at least for the first three games) in the playoffs this year.
But four first rounders?
Now, the Hawks do potentially have some first round picks to spare. They hold their own first round pick in all upcoming drafts as well as a top-14 protected future Timberwolves pick and a top-10 protected future Cavs pick.
And while we now know the Pacers likely will be unable to extend George’s contract after he failed to make the All-NBA teams announced Thursday (all-league honors would have allowed the Pacers to give George a $210 million extension, giving him financial incentive to stay in Indiana), the Hawks of course did not know back in February the likelihood of George becoming a free agent in 2018.
Windhorst did not report if any of the picks Atlanta offered were protected. Presumably, the Hawks would have some provisions to give up that much for a single player.
George is one of the NBA’s special talents, and he’s just hitting his prime. Putting a true star alongside budding point guard Dennis Schroder and veteran power forward Paul Millsap could make the Hawks one of the top three teams in the East. But they’d still have to compete with (and almost definitely lose to) LeBron’s Cavs anyway, which means building for the future could be more useful for championship aspirations. And tossing away four first round picks would not have helped in that regard.