Amid rumors, Paul George vows to stay with Pacers

The NBA trade deadline creeps slowly, but mightily, into the spotlight around late February each season. This event is much more a tornado of rumors and speculation than a series of realistic transactions that may only take place in a video game.

However, it stands tall in comparison to trade discussions that occur in the other major American sports — football, baseball and hockey. NBA front offices drool at the chance to remake their rosters and dump hefty salaries, expiring contracts or dwindling talent.

In a league in which roster turnover is inevitable year after year, superstars and their critical supporting casts typically stay put with their respective clubs for lengthier periods of time.

Case in point is Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.

Drafted by Indiana and President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird in 2010 out of Fresno State, George has remained in a Pacers uniform since.

Both would like to keep it that way.

Bird has reiterated time and again his desire to retain the veteran George and build a winning franchise around him. The 6-9 forward is in agreement ahead of Thursday’s 3:00 PM trade deadline.

Amid reports his name has been linked to trade talks, George stated on Wednesday he’s “committed” to turning around Indiana’s season. The Pacers (29-28) have battled inconsistency all season, but remain above .500 as the second half inches near. After winning seven in a row between the end of January and start of February, Indiana is currently riding a six-game losing skid as February comes to a close.

When prompted about the potential to remain in Indianapolis and end his career in a Pacers uniform, George said he “would love to.”

Bird is ahead of pace in that regard, having already offered George the chance to sign a contract extension months ago. He informed George last fall that a max deal is his if he wants it. An extension would not only keep No. 13 in Indy for years to come, but it would be a significant raise in annual salary for George.

The Boston Celtics, most recently, have expressed interest in acquiring George or Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler. The Los Angeles Lakers have also called to inquire, among several other Western Conference teams.

As the clock ticks toward 3:00 PM on February 23, Bird and George remain focused on the Pacers — as currently constructed.

Watch George address reporters (via PacersVideo on YouTube):

[Frank McGrath]

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