Indiana Pacers: Paul George says front office didn’t want to win

Indiana Pacers, Paul George, Victor Oladipo (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers, Paul George, Victor Oladipo (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Paul George spoke about why he requested a trade away from the Pacers

Paul George’s run with the Indiana Pacers is not one that Indy fans can look back on fondly, at least not yet.

Surely, years after PG13 retires from the NBA, fans may be able to retrospectively look at that era in which the Pacers gave LeBron James and the Big 3-era Miami Heat a run for their money with positive memories, but for now, when you think of PG and the Pacers, you think of betrayal and the plight of a small market team trying and failing to retain their drafted star player.

In the era of player empowerment, star players have the power to force a trade if they want to, especially when they’re on small-market teams that haven’t been able to put winning rosters together. The frills that come along with Miami, California, and New York are not available to the Indianas and Oklahoma Citys to retain players throughout their careers in the modern era.

For that reason, recruiting free agents is hard. And ever since the trend of star players forcing their way out with a trade started (see: Anthony Davis, Paul George in two different cities, and Kawhi Leonard), some of the small-market teams have really taken it hard, even when they draft well and attempt to sell young stars on their culture.

Paul George requested a trade publicly in 2017. Optically, George looked to be the bad guy in the situation. The power-hungry superstar looking to force his way out of Indiana, it looked like George was frustrated with losing and unwilling to take responsibility for the losses as the leader of the Pacers.

On a recent podcast, George provided candid insight to the Indiana trade and what led to him moving on from Indiana. His perspective gives a bit more of the picture.

Paul George talks about what led to him requesting a trade away from the Pacers

Speaking to Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on the Knuckleheads Podcast, Paul George said that initially, he wanted to be in Indiana. He envisioned a Kobe-like career in which he would lead a singular franchise to deep playoff success throughout his career. George, at one point, wanted to bring multiple titles to the Pacers.

A few things happened. First, George wasn’t happy with how the team traded away players who needed some nurturing throughout their injury recovery.

"“I watched Danny [Granger] get hurt, Danny’s struggling, and they just shipped Danny off, knowing Danny was at a critical point in his career where he needed Indy. Like, he needed to be with people he knew to get back healthy. And I saw them just ship him away, so that kind of played a part on me,” George said."

George had, of course, just overcome a gruesome leg injury a few years prior. The team offered him plenty of support throughout his recovery as the star player of the team.

The treatment of his teammate being different and less sensitive clearly took a toll on George.

He then took issue with George Hill being traded shortly after.

"“One morning, I wake up and I see G. Hill’s traded. I don’t, like, front office people, like the front office stuff, I’m not that dude that’s like ‘I’ve got to be in decisions,’ I’m like, if y’all gon’ do something, just let me know. I’m cool with anything, that’s not my position to be in the front office. Just let me know, that’s all I ask,” George said."

Mad is an understatement. Speaking on his emotions when he saw the news, George said:

"“So when I see G Hill got traded that morning, I’m hot. I’m hot about it, like I called my agent, like, ‘they gon’ do this and not tell me? What is they on?’”"

He then didn’t like that his name was brought up in trade rumors at the deadline that year. Pacers management met with George and assured him he was untouchable and a building block moving forward.

"“Then I’m hearing my name is in trade rumors. My name is in trade talks. I’m an All-Star that year so we go to New Orleans and the President and the GM, they meet me in New Orleans to talk about my name being in the trade deadlines. They like, ‘nah we would never trade you, you’re not movable,’” George said."

Speaking to Quentin and Darius, PG goes on to tell how he publicly committed to the franchise, believing that he would be with the team for years to come. He and the Pacers had a conversation that summer, reiterating the mutual interest in a long-term partnership together.

Shortly after, George got calls from his agent in which he was informed the Pacers were doing their due diligence, listening to offers for George despite their verbal commitments to not trade him.

All a part of the business, George was able to ignore those to a degree. Then, though, George got a fish on the hook. Doing some player recruiting around the league, he got what he implies was the top power forward in the league at the time to agree to come to Indiana if the team were to agree. George doesn’t

"“I ain’t gon’ say the names, because I’m going to keep their business private, Ima just say it like this. I had at the time, the best power forward saying he wanted to come to Indy and team up with me.”"

The Pacers were reluctant to pay the price to get a second star and said they couldn’t do it, citing the fact that they are a small market team.

George felt that was a signal that the team didn’t want to win, and quickly told his agent he wanted out.

"“What am I doing here? You know what I mean? They don’t want to win. I’ve got the best power forward that wants to come play here. Not everybody chooses Indy to come play here.”"

The Pacers ended up receiving Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in that trade, two players that have turned into All-Stars while in Indiana.

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