Larry Bird on playing Paul George at power forward: ‘He don’t make the decisions around here’

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Paul George had emerged as one of the game’s elite small forwards during his first four NBA seasons, but Pacers president Larry Bird is toying with the idea of switching his position.

Due to a combination of the league going smaller thanks to the success showcased by the Golden State Warriors, along with the fact that George missed almost all of his fifth year in the league due to injury, Bird believes George can be more effective at the four beginning next season — whether George likes it or not.

From the Associated Press:

“I’m not going to get into a battle about where Paul George will play,” Bird said. “He’s a basketball player, and we can put him anywhere out there.” …

On Saturday at a local basketball camp, George said that while he’s willing to play anywhere, he didn’t anticipate playing 30 minutes per game at that spot.

“He don’t make the decisions around here. But I did it, and I loved it after I did it,” Bird said, drawing laughter. He added later: “I know what it did for my career and coming off this injury, I think it would be a good thing because he can still guard some threes, but he doesn’t have to do it all the time.”

This will be matchup dependent, certainly, because while George has made the All-Defensive team twice, there will be players who are simply too big and strong for him to guard for extended stretches.

George has already been preparing for the change, and Bird was obviously just cracking wise. But he made it clear that it’s a strategy we can expect to see the Pacers try very early next season.