Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard is taking some serious heat after trading away All-Star forward Paul George for pennies on the dollar last week. Even with the entire world knowing George would have walked as a free agent next summer, a package including Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis was a small price for the Oklahoma City Thunder to pay.
George had been on the block since February’s trade deadline — a time when varying reports suggested he was going to be on the move. Unfortunately for fans in Indiana, the Pacers were holding out hopes of contending for a conference title. In the end, they decided to keep George through the remainder of the season.
Now, with his team pretty much in full-scale rebuild mode, Pritchard admits that he could have received more for George back in February.
Pritchard, on 2017 trade deadline: "Could you have gotten more (for Paul)? Absolutely. (But) we were about making the playoffs last year."
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) July 7, 2017
There’s a whole bunch of different things to look at here.
First off, Indiana might have been in contention for a playoff spot back in February. In no way does this mean the team had the ability compete with the then two-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers for a spot in the NBA Finals. In the end, the Pacers (and George) were swept out by Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. It’s this type of false hope of contention that can set a franchise back for years.
Secondly, we’re not absolutely sure what Indiana was offered at the trade deadline. Though, there’s a solid suggestion that the Celtics were willing to hand over multiple first-round picks and a couple key rotational players. No matter who those players might have been, that would’ve represented a better bounty than what the Pacers received from Oklahoma city for George.
With that said, Pritchard himself doubled down on the idea that offers made back in February (some of which were leaked to the media since) might not have been valid offers.
“A lot of those offers are put into the media for a reason,” Pritchard said, via the Indy Star. “A lot of times if it hits that level, it’s not going to happen or wasn’t real.”
Boston (or any other team) using the media as leverage notwithstanding, Indiana completely struck out in the Paul George trade. Pritchard can try to put a happy face on it, but those of an objective mind will read right through him.