Celtics looking to land Gordon Hayward, Paul George

Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups watches from the sideline during an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. A person familiar with the situation says Billups has not made a decision about joini

The Celtics, for their part, are confident that George will sign a long-term deal if they get Hayward first. "Indiana has been focused on trying to complete a deal with Boston for George, league sources told The Vertical".

The Celtics are angling to pair potential off-season acquisitions Gordon Hayward and Paul George, The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reports. To shed the necessarily salaries to acquire Hayward and George, the Celtics wouldn't be able to act until the start of free agency...and Boston might not be willing to wait. Boston fans cheered the All-Star forward during a January game against the Utah Jazz. But what Boston can offer the Pacers is young players paired with future draft picks which is something IN desperately needs.

George has been heavily linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, though Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported talks between the Lakers and Pacers died down before the 2017 NBA draft in Brooklyn, New York, last Thursday. The Celtics and Pacers were close to a deal on draft night, according to Wojnarowski, but a third team involved ended up causing a breakdown.

With George making clear his intentions to bolt from IN in free agency next summer, the Pacers front office have no option but to trade their franchise player ahead of the 2017-18 season. 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.

Several teams are eyeing the services of George but they are wary that he might leave after one season, exercising the player option in his contract.