Things are starting to work out for the Celtics in the standings on multiple levels.
The C's currently sit in the five spot in the Eastern Conference after getting out to a slow start to the season. The Nets are now 4-12 and own the third-worst record in the NBA. And several teams that have major stars are struggling as we inch closer to December. If things don’t turn around drastically for these teams before Christmas, there’s a good chance these teams will look to (everyone’s favorite term) “blow it up.”
Of course, the Celtics will be at the forefront of any and all “blow it up” scenarios when it comes to trade talks. A look at two teams with two particular stars that the Celtics might be interested in soon.
Pacers – Paul George
Larry Bird made moves this past offseason in an effort to get his Pacers into the upper-echelon of the East. It hasn’t worked out great so far, as Indiana sits at 9-9 on the season. If the playoffs started today, they would be an eight seed and would be fodder for the Cavs.
Paul George held a players-only meeting last Thursday and the Pacers responded by beating the Nets (how convenient that the meeting was held BEFORE they played the Nets?).
George is having a fine individual season, averaging 20.8 points and 6.9 boards per game, but if this meeting proves to be nothing more than a hot air session and Indiana continues to struggle – expect the trade rumors to heat up.
Bird has been stubborn when it comes to dealing away top talent in the past as he seems to believe in the loyalty that the Celtics showed him many moons ago. He held on to Reggie Miller when the team began to slip late in Miller’s career and he has been fiercely loyal to George. Bird has said publicly that he wants to sign George to a contract extension, but George is hesitant to sign on the dotted line. Bird’s inability to bring in another superstar player to place alongside George may lead to the small forward getting restless in Indy.
“Paul George has kind of made it clear that he’s really not interested in an extension,” ESPN’s Marc Stein said on Zach Lowe’s podcast Monday.
Kings – DeMarcus Cousins
Rudy Gay won’t be on the Kings much longer, but it remains to be seen if Sacramento will go for the full rebuild. Here is the state of the Kings in a nutshell (from the Sacramento Bee):
“Gay still wants out. He says little, but he has not wavered. Cousins wants to stay and retains strong backing from principal owner Vivek Ranadive. And while Cousins again is among the league leaders in technical and appears to be gaining weight, so far there have been no locker room outbursts directed at teammates or his head coach. Stat-wise, the seventh-year veteran is averaging career bests in points (27.8 ppg) and 3-point percentage (37.0), shooting 46.7 percent from the field and contributing 9.8 rebounds – a drop from 11.5 last year.”
Those individual stats for Cousins are fine and dandy, but the bottom line is that the Kings sport a 7-10 record and seem on pace to win just 27-35 wins like they have every season for the past decade. They have not made the postseason since 2006 and Cousins has been there since 2010. To quote the late great pro wrestler Owen Hart, “enough is enough and it’s time for a change.”