Paul George opened up this week about why he requested a trade from the Indiana Pacers three years ago, and the star swingman said a lot of it had to do with a fellow All-Star wanting to play for the Pacers and the team not making an attempt to acquire him. Now, we know who that unnamed player was.
George said he was angry with the Pacers over their unwillingness to explore a trade for “the best power forward” in the NBA. While George didn’t name the player, J. Michael of the Indy Star reports that George was referring to Anthony Davis. However, the situation may have been more complicated than George made it sound.
I keep getting Blake Griffin comments over this. It was NOT him. PG is referring to Anthony Davis who had a couple yrs left on his deal. No commitment to #Pacers beyond that and a team gutting itself to get AD and then having to compete w/Lakers in free agency made it a no-go https://t.co/cJ1BppN6L2
Davis had two years remaining on his contract at the time, and he reportedly would not commit to Indiana beyond that. Michael went on to note that the Pacers probably did not have enough to offer to entice the New Orleans Pelicans to trade Davis to them.
The other hitch …dealing for AD wasn’t that simple. If AD wanted to come to Indy and stay he would’ve gotten every penny allowed by the CBA. The other team has to value wha you’re offering above all others https://t.co/oyUMwWbiVQ
George said last year that he was going to eventually tell the full story of why he left the Pacers, and it sounds like their inability to acquire Davis was the biggest factor. We’ll never know how much effort Indiana made to land Davis, but they would not be the first franchise that was unwilling to mortgage their entire future for one player.
“I ain’t gon’ say the names, because I’m going to keep their business private, I’ma just say it like this,” George said, according to RealGM. “I had at the time, the best power forward saying he wanted to come to Indy and team up with me. They’re like, ‘We’re a mid-major, we’re a small market, like, we can’t do it … we can’t afford that.’ I’m like the best power forward wants to come play here, like, y’all can’t make that work? They didn’t want to do it.
“So I’m like, now I’m pissed, because it’s like, what am I doing here? You know what I mean? They don’t want to win,” the six-time All-Star continued. “I’ve got the best power forward that wants to come play here. Not everybody chooses Indy to come play here.”
George did not reveal who the player was, though a Pacers reporter says the player was Anthony Davis. Davis was not a free agent at the time and would have cost the team a lot in trade compensation, with no promises of him re-signing, so the team’s reluctant to make a trade was understandable.
The NBA is set to return to action at the end of July, and numerous questions pertaining to the logistics of the league’s plan remain. While we are learning the answers to those questions gradually, NBA teams must now question how they will perform when the season does return.
With playoff basketball on the horizon, here are the most critical questions surrounding the championship contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Lance Stephenson may be returning to the NBA in the same place where it began for him.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Indiana Pacers are in “strong talks” to sign Stephenson, who is currently playing in China.
Lance Stephenson is in strong talks on a potential deal with Indiana, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium. No agreement or decision is finalized. Stephenson would also need clearance from his Chinese team and FIBA.
Stephenson last played in the NBA last season, where he logged 68 games for the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged a modest 7.2 points in 16.5 minutes per game for them.
Stephenson has made fairly clear that he feels he has unfinished business with Indiana. The Pacers had the option to keep him for $4.3 million in 2018-19, but chose not to in a move that definitely bothered him. Less than two years later, if this works out, he could boost them for a possible playoff run down the stretch, particularly as a defensive wing.
TJ Warren had his long-awaited revenge game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, and he proved he was ready for it by leading all scorers with 25 points. Whoever was running the Indiana Pacers’ social media account was just as prepared as Warren.
After Indiana’s 112-87 blowout win over the Suns, the official Twitter account of the Pacers shared a graphic highlighting Warren’s big performance and said the swingman was “just money tonight.”
For those of you who don’t understand the backstory, the Suns traded Warren and a second-round pick to Indiana back in October for cash considerations. That’s as close to giving a player away as you can get in the NBA, and Warren made it clear that he felt disrespected by the deal.
Wednesday night’s game was yet another reminder that the Pacers won the deal. Warren is averaging 18 points per game this season, which is the same total he had last year. He has been a key contributor for an Indiana team that is 29-16 and likely headed to the postseason, while Phoenix is just 18-26. Trading a player is one thing, but you can’t blame Warren for feeling like the Suns didn’t place a high enough value on him.
Paul George was once again booed when he returned to Indiana as a visiting player on Monday night, and he responded by having one of his best games of the season. While the star swingman openly admits he embraces the villain role against his former team, he says Pacers fans are directing their taunts at the wrong guy.
After he led the Los Angeles Clippers to a win over Indiana with 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists, George told reporters that he plans to tell the real story behind how and why he left the Pacers. However, now is not the time for that.
Paul George once again says “That’s Indiana for you,” when it comes to the boos. Also says one day he will do a “tell all” on why he left. pic.twitter.com/yAvC7WGyEe
“Someday I’ll do a tell all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana,” George said. “And I promise you, I’m not the one to boo. … I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year. The people they should boo is here a lot longer than me.”
The implication from George is obviously that the Pacers’ front office is to blame for the way he left Indiana. He likely feels they made promises about the future of the team and never followed through, which is why he wanted to be traded.
Of course, Pacers fans are not the only group of NBA fans that likes to boo George, so it’s no surprise he uses it as motivation. He helped keep Indiana in contention for seven seasons before he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, so perhaps fans will one day thank him for that rather than showering him with boos.
The NBA offseason was one for the ages. A crazy amount of top-end talent changed teams, either by trades or free agency decisions. Six of the 15 players to make All-NBA teams last season are now part of new franchises. The draft has passed, so have many trades, and teams are finally starting to get settled as they prepare for the upcoming season. That means we can assess which teams have improved the most entering the 2019-20 seasons.
Here are seven teams who have done the most to improve themselves over the course of the NBA offseason.
7. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers weathered Victor Oladipo’s absence fairly well last season, winning 48 games and finishing fifth in the conference. Oladipo should be back this season, and the Pacers have made moves to improve the supporting cast around him. The big move was adding restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks. Other additions like Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren will provide forward depth. With Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner already holding down the frontcourt and Oladipo expected back sometime around the start of 2020, they’ll be a formidable bunch, despite the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic.