As for who had a bad draft, let’s start with the Indiana Pacers, who selected UCLA forward TJ Leaf at 18, his UCLA teammate Ike Anigbogu at 47, and then acquired Edmond Sumner for cash from the Pelicans. Leaf is a local kid with all the makings of a 4 who can shoot and spread the floor. Anigbogu has a ton of potential who slipped because of a knee issue, if he can stay healthy, he could be a steal. Not bad. I’ll give them an F-minus.
Not because of what they did, but because of what they didn’t do. They didn’t trade Paul George. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was what Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard said afterwards regarding the report over the weekend that George planned to opt out next summer with the intention of going to the Lakers: “If we would have known this a few months ago, I think we could have been more prepared. Becoming public was a big issue. We want our players to want to be here, that’s important. It really is. When Paul said he didn’t, that’s a gut punch.”
That’s one mention of gut punch, but Pritchard dropped a total of five references to gut punches in the presser, including this: “For me it was a gut punch. It was a total gut punch, because we had many conversations over the summer about players that we’d like to add, a little bit of style that we’d like to play.”
If Pritchard was really surprised by George’s agent saying that he planned to opt out, he’s the only one. It was the most open secret in the NBA. Paul George’s interest in SoCal isn’t something new. He didn’t just discover Los Angeles on the team’s west coast trip back in January. He’s from SoCal. He’s been from SoCal his whole life. That’s not something that just materialized out of nowhere.
And if the organization really didn’t know, they should have known. And as for Pritchard’s claim that “it couldn’t have come at a worse time,” that’s not exactly accurate either. I can definitely think of a worse time than June of 2017: June of 2018, when he can walk and you get nothing for him.
Which is all the more reason for why they should have had a plan and been working that plan for a while and stop acting like this came out of nowhere. It didn’t.
Are you going to tell me that everyone in the league knew this guy was looking to bounce, except you?! And stop crying about what a gut punch it is. Teams cut and trade players, all the time, in every sport, but when a player does it to a team, it’s somehow wrong.
Why is that when a team cuts or trades a guy, it’s always just part of the game; not personal, but business. But if Paul George busts out on his team or says he will, it’s a quote gut punch. C’mon., man. That’s weak.
And if you’re not prepared for the one thing that everyone else knew was going to happen, you’re the wrong dude for that gig.
I get not wanting to make a bad deal, but here’s the truth: there are no good deals for a 4-time all-star who wants out with one year left on his contract. The good version of that trade doesn’t exist. And there comes a point where not making a deal is a bad deal.
Are you really going to try to show up to training camp with Paul George on your roster? Or start the season with him? How’s that going to go for you, or him, or the team, or the fanbase? As long as he’s in Indiana, the first question will always be, when’s he not going to be in Indiana?
I get it. You’re in a tough spot. But you’ve got to do something. Something more than crying about how this guy did you all wrong. Because he didn’t. The clock is ticking and if you don’t get something for him, that won’t feel like a punch to the gut, it’ll feel like a kick to the junk. And one you did to yourself.