We all knew that Paul George wanted out, and we all knew that the Indiana Pacers would try to move him. But no one could have predicted the Pacers would get so little for one of the best two-way players in basketball.
That, however, is exactly what happened. The Pacers shipped their former franchise player to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
“Everyone is kind of baffled,” CBS Sports NBA insider Matt Moore said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The word choke has been used by many executives around the league. A disaster is another term that’s been popular and how it’s been described. I think much of it came down to the Pacers wanted to get this done before free agency started because . . . if it drags on, they will not have the cap space or knowledge of where their team is in order to really start planning.
“So now they enter free agency – and obviously they’re not a destination, but they know how to at least start building their team,” Moore continued. “They know where they’re going. They know what their direction is. They know they’ve got Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, so they’re going in that direction.”
The Thunder now have one of the best duos – if not the best duo – in basketball, as George, who averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, joins league MVP Russell Westbrook. The Pacers, meanwhile, must rebuild after finishing with their worst record (42-40) since 2010-11 (37-45).
Boston was considered a top contender to land George, but the right deal never materialized. In hindsight, that’s a bit of a mystery.
“I think that the Boston Celtics, from what I’ve heard from multiple people around the league, is the Celtics overplayed their hands,” Moore said. “They did give significant offers at last year’s trade deadline when Larry Bird was there but was never going to give him up unless it was a monster offer – and they did make a strong offer on draft night, but it was strong enough. And then as it went on, the offers got worse and worse. They kind of assumed the Pacers would always come back to them and say, ‘All right, fine, what do you got?’ And they never did. This deal just went down. It’s been really amazing to see the reaction. Everyone’s stunned that the Pacers got so little for a player like Paul George.”