Last June, Paul George‘s agent told the Pacers his client would opt out in 2018 and leave Indiana. He also reportedly kept telling people he planned to sign with the Lakers. Despite George’s trade value being driven down by the Lakers threat, the Pacers dealt him to the Thunder rather than losing him for nothing.
With George set to face his former team in Oklahoma City tonight, he reflected on leaving Indiana.
George, via Clifton Brown of IndyStar:
“Obviously, I’m human. Things could have been done a lot better. The process, that whole ordeal could have been done a lot better. I’ll share some of that responsibility. But at the end of the day, I did what was best for myself, what was best for my family. I had to move on. It was the right decision for myself. I’m happy. I’m happy with what the results were.”
George didn’t demand a trade. He didn’t even request a trade. He was an open and honest with the Pacers, giving them an opportunity to proceed as they pleased.
Was it George’s fault it leaked that he informed the Pacers he’d leave? Probably. But why shouldn’t he be open with his plans for after his contract expires? Why did he owe it to the Pacers to preserve his trade value – especially because that would directly harm his next team?
It usually doesn’t matter how a star leaves a team. Those left behind will resent him for it. People Indiana would have loathed George if he played out the season without offering any insight into his intentions then left in free agency. In fact, some would have complained he didn’t tell the Pacers in advance – exactly what he did in reality.
As far as stars departing, George leaving Indiana went pretty smoothly. I’m not sure what he could have done better.