The Indiana Pacers Paul George didn’t get traded at the NBA Draft, but that doesn’t mean general manager Kevin Pritchard has taken his team’s All-Star off the market. After the “gut punch” from George’s agent, Paul George is still being shopped hard.
“At the end of the day Paul is a special player and he’s been good for this organization,” Pritchard said in his press conference after the draft. “We felt like in a few of the talks over the summer that he wanted to win and he wanted to win here, so it was a little bit of a gut punch for us.”
After the last couple of seasons ended in first round playoff exits and the team had to adjust to popular head coach Frank Vogel being let go a year ago, one can only assume George wasn’t convinced anything was about to change for the better in Indiana. He was ready to move on and it was the Pacers that would have to do the adjusting.
“We are adjusting right now,” Pritchard said. “At the end of the day we want to build a winning team and we want players that want to be here.”
While nothing got done with George at the draft that doesn’t mean nothing was going on. The Lakers were rumored to have put a young player and a couple of late first round draft picks on the table. The Celtics were rumored to have put a package for George together and there were undoubtedly other serious attempts to pry George out of Indiana.
However, Pritchard didn’t think he was getting enough for a franchise player on an expiring deal who had made it known the Lakers were his preferred destination in free agency next summer. Maybe his expectations were a little high?
“It was a gut punch for me,” Pritchard reiterated. “But at the end of the day, I think you got to do this, you got to get past mad. He has his own perspective of the situation and I try to see that through his eyes. I can be empathetic because he wants to go back home or potentially go back home.”
If Pritchard can acknowledge George’s desires for a return to L.A. next season in a press conference, they aren’t rumors. They are facts and George’s trade value will reflect that no matter how many deals the Pacers look at.
“We are going to look at a lot of deals,” Pritchard said. “Doesn’t mean one won’t get done in the short term, but we are not going to take any bad deals either.
“Right now there is enough on the board that we feel good about that we could pull the trigger at any time.”
Surely Pritchard realizes the window on some of those deals will start closing in less than a week as teams start pursuing other opportunities in free agency. From pursuing their own free agents to trying to convince other teams free agents to switch organizations, money will start to be committed, open roster spots will disappear, commitments will be made that can’t be unmade this summer. It is completely reasonable to expect that Pritchard will have seen his best offer within days of free agency opening up.
“We could go a lot of different places,” Pritchard said. “We could go a little younger and start developing, but there were offers where good players were coming back that were veterans and we are not afraid to do that.
“We want to build a winning team and sometimes you got to look a little short term and sometimes you look long term.”
If this was the sales pitch to George, it’s no wonder he said get me outta here. Pick a direction and get negotiating before the deal you really wanted isn’t there anymore.
If you are going to go shopping, know what you want to buy or you could end up coming home with something you neither need nor want.