Apr 23, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) points during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Cleveland defeats Indiana 106-102. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
It is imperative that the Indiana Pacers find out what Paul George is truly thinking regarding his future in the NBA, or they risk losing him one year from now and getting nothing in return.
When the Indiana Pacers‘ 2016-17 season ended with a first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, new team president Kevin Pritchard held exit meetings with the players, as is standard in the NBA.
Pritchard stated to the media that he had a talk with Paul George that lasted nearly an hour, and George spoke as if he wanted to be with the Pacers in the future.
The problem is, any player in Paul George’s situation would say the politically correct things in an exit meeting; in his mind, there is no reason to divulge his inner thoughts at this early stage of the free agency game.
It is highly doubtful that George has made any kind of decision at this time, but he has certainly thought about the various possibilities and is surely leaning in one direction or another based on what he knows right now.
Indiana’s front office needs to have a very open dialog with Paul George regarding his impending free agency. If they do not push for this kind of meeting, it puts them in a weak position.
Gut first reaction: Bird stepping down, Pritchard in is a sign that a rebuild is coming to Indiana, and that includes a Paul George trade.
The Pacers have to determine if they should consider trading George sometime this summer, but they can’t make an informed decision if they don’t have any real feedback from their All-Star small forward.
A conversation such as this may be uncomfortable for everyone involved, but not having it would be a huge gamble for Indiana. In fact, the future of the franchise may depend on Paul George’s true feelings and how the team responds to them.
No one can force Paul George to share his intimate thoughts with team personnel, but Kevin Pritchard needs to ask for this type of brutally honest meeting.
One would hope that if George truly cares about the Pacers franchise, his teammates and Indiana’s fanbase, he would be willing to discuss his thoughts and feelings with Pritchard on a very honest level.
Telling Pritchard what he wants to hear won’t cut it; George needs to speak the truth, even if that truth is tough for the Pacers to swallow.
We’ve all heard the rumors — Paul George wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul George wants to leave Indiana to play for a contender, and so on. The only person who currently has the facts at his disposal is Paul George himself, and that must change.
If it doesn’t, the Indiana Pacers could find themselves in a position where they are guessing what the right move should be, and a miscalculation regarding Paul George’s status could be devastating to a small market franchise like Indiana.