Tag Archives: paul george

Kevin Pritchard has been the gift that keeps on giving

It’s early in Kevin Pritchard’s tenure as the President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers, but things couldn’t have gone much better over his first seven months considering the hand he was dealt shortly after he took over for Larry Bird.

In the summer, it didn’t look like it was going well to most outside the Pacers organization.

Originally, Pritchard’s plan was to build around Paul George and create a contender that would entice George to remain in Indiana. George seemed willing to let Pritchard try until about a week before the draft and the beginning of the off-season when he had a change of heart and told the Pacers organization that he would not re-sign with the team.

“We had multiple conversations, we talked about players we wanted to add to this team, and it felt like we were in agreement on that,” Pritchard said after the draft. “Not that a player dictates that, but I wanted him to (give) some feedback. We had conversations about players and how we want to go forward. So, for me it was a shock.”

One week before the off-season and all of the Pacers plans were for naught. That gut punch made for a unenviable scenario for Indiana as they quickly turned their focus to creating a completely new plan.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time for me,” Pritchard said after the draft. “Had we known this a while ago we could have been more prepared. And then the way it got out… we struggled with that.”

Pritchard was unable to find a deal to his liking during the draft and preached patience on waiting for the right deal to materialize even as George’s agent was making it clear to all potential teams that he wanted to be in Los Angeles. Pritchard found the deal he was looking for with Oklahoma City Thunder, but no one seemed to agree that he made the right call.

The return for Paul George of Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and no draft picks was laughed at and mocked without mercy by nearly all from police departments, fans, mediaeven other teams. (Myself included in the puzzled-over-Pritchard’s-decision camp to choose this deal and not one that included Gary Harris from Denver in a 3-team deal with Cleveland or waiting for Boston to know whether they would sign Gordon Hayward and trying to snag that juicy Nets pick that would only be in the late lottery if the season ended today.)

No one is laughing now. Except the Pacers.

Pritchard has put together a team that plays hard every night, is more fun than ever and has chemistry that usually takes teams years of playing together to develop.

“My teammates are phenomenal people,” said Oladipo. “When you surround yourself with people that care about you, chemistry comes natural. It’s a special locker room.”

None have been more important to this team transformation than Victor Oladipo, who leads by example, cares for his teammates immensely, and has hit big shot after big shot in the clutch for the Pacers so far this season.

It’s likely that Oladipo makes an All-Star team this season, while George probably does not. Not many would have predicted that when the trade was announced this summer.

“He should be an All-Star starter,” Darren Collison said after a recent practice. “I think he deserves it. Since day one, he’s been the leader that we’ve asked him to be.”

And Sabonis has been a big part of the Pacers emerging chemistry as the guy that seemingly everyone loves to play with.

But the deal that netted the Pacers two key pieces for their bright future is only one move that Pritchard made this off-season. He’s looked to have hit on just about every transaction to this point including signing Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic and trading for Cory Joseph.

In total five of the eight players that play the most minutes for the Pacers were added by Pritchard this off-season and another (Thaddeus Young) was widely looked at as someone they should have looked to trade away after the George news instead of keep around.

Instead of being a lottery-bound league bottom feeder that many expected coming into the season, the Pacers sit at 19-14, good for 4th in the Eastern Conference, and have been a much improved team from last year’s version.

The Pacers looked for players that had the following traits in the George deal and seemed to have carried that over into their free agency moves as well: motivated, toughness, hardworking, togetherness, unselfishness, intelligence, athleticism and chemistry.

““It’s chemistry,” said Lance Stephenson after the Nuggets game, “sticking together and believing in one another. We’re bringing it every night. … There’s no hate. You know what I mean? Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants their teammates to do good. I feel like that makes this team even better.”

Resilient is another word that should have been added to the list as the Pacers come from behind seemingly every game, especially at home.

The only question so far for Pritchard is how his draft picks of TJ Leaf and Ike Anibogu will turn out, but neither player is even 20 years old yet and it’s too early to jump to any conclusions about them this early in their careers.

“We know that he can score the ball,” McMillan said about Leaf after practice. “We want to see him defend and continue to work on, certainly scoring, but really his first year is about just playing. There’s no pressure, no expectations, other than getting out there to play.”

A big difference between Bird and Pritchard’s style in recent off-seasons is the lack of long-term deals that Pritchard handed out.

Both guys spent most of the cap space that they had available nearly every year, but Bird’s long-term bets in consecutive years on the likes of Rodney Stuckey, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson not only didn’t work out in the immediate sense but gave the Pacers less wiggle room in following off-seasons to improve the roster.

The Pacers will now still be paying Monta Ellis, who was waived in the off-season using the stretch provision, when the NBA All-Star game makes it long-awaited return to Indianapolis in 2021, and neither Ellis or Stuckey have even found a team willing to sign them at all since they were waived by the Pacers. They aren’t the only players from the 2016-17 roster that are now out of the NBA: Lavoy Allen, Kevin Seraphin, Rakeem Christmas, and Georges Niang.

Pritchard, however, kept the team’s future cap space open while going after overlooked veterans that would take short-term deals with partial guarantees in the final year of the contract.

Collison and Bogdanovic both are making about $10 million this season and at this point look likely to complete their 2-year deals next season with the team, but if they didn’t pan out Indiana could have cut the cord with little cost to their salary cap for next season as the second years had a very small portion of guaranteed money. These contracts also could be used as potential trade sweeteners for teams looking to shed salary to make room in FA for a max contract slot.

Right now, it doesn’t seem like these fail-safe options will be necessary, but Pritchard put the organization in good position either way.

The challenge will eventually become what to do with many of the team’s current players as their contracts end either this summer or the next, including Joseph, Collison, Bogdanovic, Young and Glenn Robinson III, but so far Pritchard has been the gift that keeps on giving for the Indiana Pacers.

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Tales from the Block: The Return of Paul George

Tales from the Block: Welcome to Turners Block. In this column, I’ll try to bring a look at the games from inside the craziest, loudest bunch of fans in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse along with the Born Ready Crew. Pardon my absence these last few weeks. I was saving up for this game.

Admit it. When you looked at the schedule to start the season, the first game you looked for was that OKC game against Paul George (who for the rest of this article be referred to as Agent 13). Thankfully it was early in the season.

Continue reading Tales from the Block: The Return of Paul George

Kevin Pritchard likes your bad Paul George trade takes

Kevin Pritchard has to be feeling pretty good right about now.

The trade that everyone said was terrible over the summer just keeps looking better and better for the Indiana Pacers.

Victor Oladipo looks like a superstar. And the Pacers got Domantas Sabonis, who has looked like another building block for Indiana. The Pacers are incredibly fun and their chemistry is unreal.

Continue reading Kevin Pritchard likes your bad Paul George trade takes

I don’t miss you, Paul George

I avoided watching Paul George and the Thunder play until last night when he played his first game against the team that drafted him in the Indiana Pacers.

Much like my strategy would be after a break up with a significant other, I just wanted to avoid it. Forget about it. Out of sight. Out of mind. At one point in the off-season, I nearly muted the words Paul George on Twitter.

I was expecting a mix of emotions watching George play against the Pacers. Some painful nostalgia of the good times, longing for the good old days of hot shooting, elite defense, dope dunks and deep playoff runs.  Continue reading I don’t miss you, Paul George

Lakers fined $500K for tampering with Paul George

After an independent investigation, the Los Angeles Lakers were found to have tampered with Paul George and were fined $500,000.

The reason for the fine was Lakers GM Rob Pelinka expressing interest in George to his agent Aaron Mintz while he was still under contract with the Pacers.

This happened after the league had already issued a warning to the Lakers for tampering after Magic Johnson’s wink-filled interview on national television with Jimmy Kimmel.

The Pacers won’t receive any compensation like draft picks as the league did not find evidence that the Lakers and George had reached an agreement for George to join the team in free agency in 2018.

It’s a small consolation to the Pacers who had zero leverage in the Paul George trade talks because of his widely known desire to join the Lakers and his agent telling teams he would just be a rental.

Indiana Pacers file charges against Los Angeles Lakers for tampering with Paul George

Peter Vecsey reports that the NBA is investigating whether the Los Angeles Lakers tampered with Paul George after the Indiana Pacers filed charges with the league.

The video seen above with Magic Johnson appearing on Jimmy Kimmel and ironically explaining what tampering is and why he can’t do it could be enough on its own for at least some small penalty to be reached against the Lakers. It seems as though Johnson’s urge to make a joke on TV caused him to forget what he learned in “tampering school.”

Vecsey reports that the Lakers were asked to turn over “any correspondence pertaining to” George, his agent and his parents.

In the CBA tampering is defined as when a team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades someone that is under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services.

In the past, teams have been fined undisclosed amounts due to tampering charges. In perhaps the biggest case, the Miami Heat ended up giving the New York Knicks $1 million and a first-round pick to the New York Knicks for tampering with Pat Riley while he was still under contract.

The Pacers obviously were in a tough spot once George and his agent told the team he wasn’t returning and his agent told other teams that he was only interested in re-signing with the Lakers. If the Lakers were talking with George or his agent along the way, that made the Pacers challenge even more difficult.

It’s unlikely the Pacers get anything back from the Lakers like the Riley situation, especially with George not with the Lakers yet. This would seem to gain more traction next off-season when/if George does what everyone expects and signs with Los Angeles.

iPacers Discuss: Grading Every Off-Season Transaction

The Indiana Pacers have been in a major state of transition since Paul George declared his intentions to depart the franchise. So how has Kevin Pritchard fared with his moves this off-season? 

The iPacers team offers their thoughts on each of the moves here.

The Draft: TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner

Joe Betz: B

Drafting T.J. Leaf in the first round was a safe pick. It wasn’t exciting, but as the Pacers front court depth dwindles after releasing Rakeem Christmas and Lavoy Allen into free agency, and with Al Jefferson likely waived at the end of this upcoming season with the last year of his contract only partially guaranteed. Leaf as a skilled big man with developing range is solid. Passing on John Collins and Caleb Swanigan might come back to haunt Indiana, though…(same with O.G. Anunody). No pressure, T.J.!

Adding Ike Anigbogu and Edmond Sumner in the second round elevates this draft grade from a C to a B for me.  Both Anigbogu and Sumner were pegged as first round talents going into last season, with Ike even picked to go to the Pacers in the first round by a few mocks leading up to the draft. Sumner’s ACL injury pushed him out of first round discussions almost immediately, whereas many were surprised that Ike slid as far as he did because of his knee ailments.

Anigbogu and Sumner have potential to be steals with starting-caliber talent, and Leaf could become a contributing member off the bench as early as mid-season, though it’s likely he will not play much until 2018-2019.

Ross Blauvelt: B+

Tough to give it a grade now. I’m more the wait and see in 2-3 years how they develop. But off the cuff. B+ for the Pacers. Tough drafting at 18. No real game changers so you have to go for upside. Leaf at 6’10” is a floor stretcher and will play multiple positions. Young and skinny, and maybe not the guy most wanted but his Summer League play intrigued. I expect him to get some solid minutes this year as the 9th or 10th man in the rotation. Maybe an Austin Croshere type? Anigbogu and Sumner are fantastic 2nd round picks. Players with potential if they can stay healthy. That’s what a second-round pick is for. Sumner is the future at PG 6’6″ and athletic. Anigbogu is a beast already defensively, just wait if he develops an offensive game.

Derek Kramer: B-

I don’t love the TJ Leaf pick. Though he showed he has an array of offensive skills in the Summer League, he’s got a long way to go on the defensive end. Unless Thaddeus Young is traded, it’s hard to see Leaf finding many minutes on the court this season as McMillan is unlikely to trust a rookie with no defensive skills (i.e. Georges Niang last season). In the end if he can stretch his range out past the NBA 3-point line, the Pacers found an Austin Croshere-clone at 18 and that’s not bad for where they were picking.

Anigbogu and Sumner are perfect low-risk, high-reward picks for the second round and that raises the draft grade for me. Getting Sumner on a 2-way contract that allows the Pacers to keep his rights while he heals and then plays for the Mad Ants but not take up a NBA roster spot makes it even better. Anigbogu is worth the risk as he could potentially be the Pacers needed enforcer down the line.

Paul George traded for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis

Derek Kramer: C

Paul George and his agent did all they could to torpedo his trade value and this grade would be higher if Pritchard showed the patience that he was preaching after draft night. Ultimately the deal is fine as the Pacers get two contributors that should be starters either immediately or in the near future, but there’s simply no way OKC doesn’t still have this deal on the table a few days later once Gordon Hayward had decided where he was playing. Maybe Ainge still doesn’t make a good enough offer but better to at least hear it out. No draft picks, not even a second-round selection doesn’t help either.

Joe Betz: B-

Paul George, through his agent, deliberately tanked his trade value to make the Lakers offer more appealing. That factor has to be considered when evaluating this trade.

Returning two starters, each lottery picks beginning to enter their prime or several years from their prime, is a solid return for Indiana. Victor Oladipo will begin to enter his prime through his current contract, and Domantas Sabonis started 66 games as a rookie for a playoff team in the West. Both can play and both have room to become better. No trade was going to return a player of Paul George’s caliber—this trade swung for talent and upside, and I think it connected.

This would be higher if the Pacers were able to also return a draft pick, which would at least give the Pacers another asset. Who knows what offers were truly on the table, and who knows if the Pacers might have been able to squeeze out a better deal if they had waited? We can only really judge what the Pacers returned within the context of PG’s desire to be traded—specifically his desire to be traded to LA.

Ross Blauvelt: A-

All those rumors were just that. Rumors. His value was torpedoed by the LA rumors since everyone knew he had to be moved. To get back two former lottery picks. One just a second-year guy who Pritchard sees as a future “Davis” brother enforcer type and the other an athletic SG who most of Indiana already knew. Just like Pritchard said, young, energetic and trending toward upside and surprise type players. You weren’t getting a PG-type player back in the trade and draft picks are even more of a hit or miss thing. This year’s draft felt like everyone in the top 10 were can’t miss prospects but that’s not always the case. A known commodity player is sometimes better than an unknown draft pick. A surprise trade for sure but after it sank in, I’m happy with it. Oh, and bonus keeping PG out west. That OKC vs IND game will be very interesting.

Darren Collison signs 2-year, $20-million deal (Partially guaranteed second season)

Joe Betz: C-

DC’s return shows the Pacers have engaged in a holding pattern in order to find a long-term point guard. His contract allows the Pacers to move away from Collison easily next season, so that is terrific, but Collison’s recent off-court issues cloud my perception of his value in this trade. He is a middle-of-the-pack starting point guard who will not win you many games, but he also won’t lose you many.

Ross Blauvelt: D+

Not sure the thought here. Collison has already be on the team in the past, has off court issues, then with the Joseph signing…. i guess it shores up that position but wouldn’t it be just as good to let Joe Young finally have a crack at the lineup?

Derek Kramer: C

I’m surprised to be the highest grade here. Collison is fine as the placeholder point guard until Cory Joseph or another future becomes the future starter next year, but signing a guy that has pleaded guilty of domestic violence is interesting after waiving Monta Ellis for smoking weed. I’d rather the Pacers have taken a chance on a young point guard like Tyler Ennis or Pierre Jackson, but Collison will be fine for the year or two that he’s here and his deal keeps future cap space open. He shoots much better than last time he was here which will be helpful for the starting unit’s spacing. 

Bojan Bogdanovic signs 2-year, $21-million deal (Partial guarantee on second season)

Joe Betz: C+

I like Bojan’s game, but his impact on the floor diminishes greatly if his shot cools. He struggles to defend more athletic wings and bang with more physical fours, so positionally, he is almost always targeted on defense. In some ways, he reminds me of Al Jefferson regarding his potential impact on a game: if he is on, he will sustain your lead or build it, but if he is off, he becomes catastrophically bad. This was the second “holding pattern” signing of the summer. The Pacers will seek long-term point guard and wing options moving forward…you know, just the two positions on the court that make or break your ability to win in the modern NBA.

Derek Kramer: B

Another veteran signing that likely won’t be here long, another fine addition to the team. My only issue with it is if he takes away minutes that should be going to Glenn Robinson III after McMillan said the starting job was Bojan’s to start off when training camp begins. Hopefully this was just a way to motivate GR3. Bogdanovic can shoot and will add spacing. I’d like this move more if he would play small ball four more often than it seems this roster will allow. If not for the CJ sign-and-trade, I’d rather the Pacers have kept Miles instead, but Bojan’s deal is short and very small guarantee on the second season will allow the Pacers to move on if they choose to after just one season.

Ross Blauvelt: B

Losing a shooter in CJ you need a new shooter with this bunch. Bojan is that albeit weaker all around compared to CJ Miles. Only other issue I see is it may take minutes away from Glenn and I really want him to have his shot this year.

CJ Miles sign-and-trade for Cory Joseph 

Joe Betz: A

This is potentially the best move of the Pacers off-season so far. Joseph provides a potential long-term option at point guard whose skillset compliments both Turner and Oladipo. He can defend his position, and though he is not a great shooter, teams do have to respect his ability to score. It will be interesting to note if the Pacers like what they see and then bite by offering a multi-year deal, as Joseph does have a player option for the 2018-2019 season. Is Joseph more of a “system” player whose skillset is improved by excellent coaching, or is he talented enough to thrive in multiple environments and roles?

Going into next year, I want Glenn Robinson to earn starting minutes. Is he a starter in this league? Let’s find out. Come on, Nate!

Ross Blauvelt: A

Love this. Would love to still have CJ though too. But seems the Pacers and he were going in different directions. Plus sending him to a winning opportunity is nice for him. Now Joseph, a perennial backup, gives the PG position some stability and possible starter. Definite improvement in the backup PG minutes if that is where he goes.

Derek Kramer: A-

Getting Joseph for CJ Miles is a great deal for the Pacers as they didn’t seem interested in bringing him back. Only an A- because it ends the dream of Lance Stephenson playing point guard.

Bonus Round: Waiving Monta Ellis

Grade: A+ from Everybody

The Curse of the Photoshoot: This Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words #4

In case this is your first time here, here’s the concept of This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: I take an interesting picture from the history of the Indiana Pacers from ABA glory to the modern era and literally write 1,000 words (or more) about the photo.

Previously in this series, we’ve looked at Reggie Miller’s torture of the Knicks faithful, Roger Brown and the ABA days, and the time the Pacers played with only six available players the day after the Malice at the Palace.

The Curse of the Photoshoot:

In the 2013-14 season, the Indiana Pacers looked like real challengers to the Miami Heat’s superteam at least for the first two-thirds of the season.

After taking the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012-13, the Pacers were on a mission the following season, starting off the year with a ludicrous 33-7 record. Paul George and Roy Hibbert were each All-Stars for the second time in their young careers. Hibbert was considered the best rim protector in the league with his mastery of verticality that made LeBron James bust out floaters that he used against nobody else, while George was one of the best 2-way wings in the league and still playing out the final season of his rookie contract before his extension would kick in.

Lance Stephenson, George Hill and David West completed the starting unit that made up the best 5-man lineup in the league that was light years ahead of anyone else defensively for much of the season under Head Coach Frank Vogel. This core was relatively young with great chemistry and the Pacers thought they had a team that would compete for years to come.

goldsberry

“I thought we would be together five, six, seven years, making conference finals,” said Vogel, now with the Magic, recently to ESPN.com.

On February 25, 2014, the Indiana Pacers had a record of 42-13 when the infamous photo that would appear in the March issue of GQ Magazine with the Pacers starting five unintentionally portraying a 90s R&B group and perfectly embodying the team’s (awful) slogan of Blue Collar Gold Swagger hit the Internet. While it was unknown at the time, a curse had been born.

After that Pacers GQ photo appeared, the Pacers finished the regular season just 14-13 in their remaining games, losing as many games and losing twice as often in its final 27 games compared to the team’s first 55, and the Pacers chemistry started to unravel as well.

While they still finished first in the conference and made it back to the conference finals, they nearly lost to the 8-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round and the upstart Washington Wizards gave the Pacers all they could handle in the second.

The Pacers lost to the Heat in a respectable six games, but many of the players from the photo and the team itself are still suffering from The Curse of the Photoshoot and have never fully recovered from the end of that 2013-14 season that started off so promising.

“Our window closed fast,” Larry Bird told ESPN.com.

Now only one player remains (Stephenson who returned from his exodus in the NBA desert) from the 2013-14 roster only three seasons later after George was traded to Oklahoma City and Lavoy Allen’s team option was declined, taking away the last remnants from the roster besides Stephenson. Even Bird has a smaller role with the team after resigning from his President of Basketball Operations position.

The Pacers missed the playoffs the following season and have finished 7th in the East the past two years. They now look prepared to start a rebuild around Myles Turner after trading away George.

Let’s look at what’s happened to each player from the infamous photo since the 2013-14 season from least affected to most affected by the curse:

David West:

West and his tight pants from the Pacers GQ photo seem to be the least affected by the curse, losing money, but gaining an NBA Championship. West decided to leave the Pacers by declining his $12 million player option after George’s lost broken leg season to get back to competing for titles and became a ring chaser that no longer had to be the only grown man and veteran voice in the locker room. After one season with the San Antonio Spurs, West joined the Warriors and got his ring this past season.

The Pacers have missed his veteran leadership since he left and his departure may have led to the Pacers plan to put George at the power forward spot the following season.

George Hill:

Hill had a career-best season in 2014-15 with an increased offensive responsibility with no George or Stephenson to share the ball with, but he also missed nearly half that season with various injuries. The following season Hill went blond and the Pacers rewarded him for his outstanding year by signing Monta Ellis and taking the ball away from Hill while he stood in the corner on most possessions. Aggressive George Hill became a rare sight.

Hill’s time as a blond should be no surprise when Hill enjoyed the Pacers GQ photoshoot the most among the starting five.

“GHill was probably the one that was really loving the whole photo shoot and loving his look,” George said when the photo came out. “They gave him that outfit and he ran with it.”

Hill was traded the following offseason in a 3-team deal that sent Jeff Teague to Indiana and Hill to the Utah Jazz. Hill had a great season for the Jazz but found his free agent market surprisingly thin as he again struggled with various injuries during the season that caused him to miss 33 games.

Hill ended up signing as a veteran mentor in basketball purgatory Sacramento on a 3-year, $57 million deal (fortunately for Hill, the Kings seem to be much less Kangz-like with their recent moves and draft picks) after he had declined an extension with the Jazz during the season for worth $80 million over four years. Teague meanwhile left the Pacers after just one season for the Timberwolves on a nearly identical 3-year, $57 million contract as the Pacers preferred to look elsewhere as they begin to rebuild.

Lance Stephenson:

Stephenson was nearly an All-Star in 2014 and led the league in triple doubles with five (which seems so small after last season’s MVP race) but also got into a fight with teammate Evan Turner, who was acquired for Danny Granger at the deadline, during a practice and became most well known for blowing into LeBron’s ear during the conference finals. He was also seen as one of the problems for the Pacers fraying chemistry down the stretch.

“There were issues with Lance not making the All-Star team,” Vogel told ESPN.com. “The addition of Evan kind of screwed him up. Evan’s a great guy. The moves totally made sense. They just messed us up a little.”

Stephenson was an unrestricted free agent the summer after the 2013-14 season and the Pacers tried to woo him with a personal movie and offered him a 5-year, $44 million contract when free agency opened. Stephenson and his (now former) agent declined the deal, thinking that the Pacers were low-balling and he would be able to find a better contract elsewhere.

“I wanted to stay there but they gave me a deadline where I had to choose,” Stephenson told the IndyStar when he returned as a Hornet. “So there wasn’t no time for me to make a decision. They gave me a deadline (before) how long it (was) going to take for them to go somewhere else. I had to make a quick decision and me and my agent decided we would see what other teams (were) talking about.”

Stephenson never found a better offer as he ended up settling for a short-term 3-year contract for $27 million with the Charlotte Hornets that had a team option on the final season as the Pacers quickly moved on to other free agents, signing C.J Miles and Rodney Stuckey.

After Stephenson had the worst 3-point shooting season in history in his first and only season with the Hornets, he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies halfway through the 2015-16 season and though Stephenson had some success, the Grizzlies declined his team option and didn’t bring him back.

Stephenson found little interest on the open market as he hit free agency again this past summer and ended up making the New Orleans Pelicans on an unguaranteed contract to start the 2016-17 season, but he was let go after just six games after injuring his groin. Once recovered, Stephenson signed a 10-day contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but after six games he an injured ankle and was not retained by the Wolves.

After playing for five teams in three seasons and his career prospects looking grim, Stephenson was given a lifeline by Bird and the team he now knows he never should have left in the first place. Stephenson signed a 3-year, $12 million deal and immediately looked like his old self once he was back in a Pacers uniform, providing a spark to an inconsistent Pacers team that went 5-1 to end the season to make the playoffs.

“I’ve been on so many teams,” Stephenson told reporters after he returned, “it felt like seven years ago. I’ve been in five different places since I left here. … It makes you stronger, it makes you smarter, and it humbles you also.”

Stephenson will in all likelihood come off the bench for the Pacers this season, but the real test for whether the curse is done with him will be if his humility from his struggles for three years outside of the organization remains with Lance as the team rebuilds.

Roy Hibbert:

None of these players have had a steeper decline in their career post-GQ-photo than Hibbert. Hibbert was an All-Star and the best rim protector in the league in 2014, but in the playoffs he became a laughingstock on the Internet as he had multiple scoreless games, even matching his zero points with zero rebounds on one occasion.

Hibbert, always prone to inconsistency, seemed to lose all confidence when the Pacers signed Andrew Bynum and fed him the ball in the post more in two games off the bench than the Pacers ever looked for Hibbert inside. Bynum’s time with the team was short, lasting only those two games before succumbing to injury, but Hibbert’s game never fully recovered. Rumors also swirled that George slept with Hibbert’s fiancé and that was causing his poor play (George denied these rumors in an Instagram post of him, Hibbert and Hill fishing together).

Hibbert’s fall was quickened by a rapidly changing league that was going smaller and faster and spread the court with all five positions. Pero Antic forced Hibbert outside his comfort zone in the first-round against the Hawks by forcing Hibbert to defend him at the 3-point line and Hibbert became a liability instead of the lynchpin to the league’s best defense.

After one more so-so season with the Pacers, Bird lost his patience with Hibbert and after failing to get Hibbert to decline his player option by letting him and the world know his role would be limited next season, Bird traded him away for a 2019 second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hibbert played one season with the Lakers and started 81 games but scored just 5.9 points per game and was no longer able to make nearly as much of a difference on the defensive end. Hibbert played the first few months of last season as the backup center for the Hornets before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. Hibbert never played a game for the Bucks before being traded to the Denver Nuggets a few weeks later where he played garbage minutes in only six games.

The 2-time All-Star, 9-year NBA veteran is now still a free agent and if he finds a team, it may just be on a minimum contract as centers like Hibbert are becoming more and more obsolete as the NBA continues to evolve. The argument could be made that Hibbert deserves the “most-cursed” title on this list.

Paul George:

In the summer following the photo, George broke his leg while playing in an exhibition for Team USA. While George would eventually come back better than ever, the lost season in George’s prime would end up making George ineligible for the Designated Player Extension (George needed two of the past three seasons on one of the All-NBA teams, but in the first of those three seasons George played in only a handful of games due to his leg) that would have allowed the Pacers to offer George a massive $200 million plus extension this summer that may have made George more likely to stay.

Instead the Indiana Pacers likely started to lose George as soon as Bird decided to move him to power forward the year after his injury despite him seemingly having no interest in playing the position. Bird’s other failed additions like Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey and Al Jefferson combined with disappointing overall team performances also likely added to George’s discontent, but it all started with the photo and then the injury. George went from saying that one day he wanted to pass Reggie Miller to being destined for the Lakers in a span of just two years.

George seemed to lament being the last guy left from those teams before Stephenson returned as player after player was either traded away or left of their own accord in free agency.

“That team is gone,” George told ESPN.com of that group. “It happens. Players move on, organizations move on. You deal with it. You keep playing.”

George is actually the only reason the GQ photo exists in the first place. Originally GQ approached just George, but George asked if the entire starting unit could join him for the shoot. GQ obliged.

“They reached out to me to do some GQ, and I thought it’d be cool to get the whole starting five in it,” said George the day the picture was released.

With the way George handled his exit and his role in the creation of the curse (only half-joking on the latter), it may be a long time before most Pacers fans can look back at these teams and remember the good times fondly.

While you can claim that other factors actually led to the Pacers demise that season and beyond like the trading of Granger, the failed addition of Bynum, the league evolving overnight or the team’s crumbling chemistry, the Curse of the Photoshoot has struck a few more teams in the years since the Pacers GQ photo.

The Seattle Seahawks made the same R&B cover photo mistake that the Pacers made and lost Super Bowl XLIX to the New England Patriots after quarterback Russell Wilson threw at interception at the goal-line in the closing moments.

The Golden State Warriors had what appeared to be a JC Penney’s catalog shoot during their historic 73-win season, but lost a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers that season.

The New York Giants added to the curse and its rapidly growing list of victims last year with their boat trip picture before quickly losing to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.

Is Victor Oladipo’s contract really that bad? 

After seeing reports/tweets almost daily from outlets like The Ringer, and even some subtle pokes from those at Indy Cornrows, I wanted to dive into the current contract miasma for NBA talent and see where Oladipo finds himself.  

Why do writers flaunt Oladipo’s $84 million price tag or use “20% of the cap” for next season like it’s a bad thing rather than place his contract in context? Did OKC really give him that terrible of a contract extension? Is it really that bad?

No, it’s not. Really. And when Oladipo is at the crest of his prime, it might even look good instead of just fine. Oladipo will make $21 million next season. And the season after that, he will make $21 million. After that, another $21 million.  Finally, he will play in one more $21 million year, collecting his last paycheck with this current contract near his 29th birthday.

There are three main reasons this contract is fine (not good, not bad), and two relate to simple math.

  1. Paying the person you believe will be the number one or number two option most plays places Oladipo in the same pay range as guys like Lamarcus Aldridge ($21.5 mil), Harrison Barnes ($23.1 mil), Dwight Howard ($23.5), Brook Lopez ($22.6), and Nicolas Batum ($22.4 mil). An obvious superior player in Paul George would have made only $19.3 million for the Pacers next season, so the $21 million to Oladipo stings a little, until you remember that George will earn the max in 2018-19 (30% of the cap, or roughly $30 million, for a player with his experience).
  2. The salary cap historically goes up. This means the Oladipo contract over time continues to look better. In 2017-18, the salary cap will be at $99 million, an increase of about five million dollars from the previous season. This raise was smaller than expected, with earlier projections closer to $103 million, but it did rise, and it’s projected to continue to rise in the next few seasons. Though there will not be a dramatic $24 million raise coming like we saw entering last season, a conservative raise from 99 million to 102 million is projected for the 2018-2019 season. For 2019-2020, we can expect a similarly small bump–the cap is not expected to stall completely, like it did from 2010 to 2012. So that 20% of the cap that Oladipo takes up will get smaller as time goes on.
  3. Victor Oladipo is entering his prime. He should improve with his increased opportunity in Indiana, and he is already a good player. Is he great? No, but he also isn’t paid like a great player. Can he get better? All signs, historical and commonsensical, point to yes, he can. And the more he improves, the better the deal becomes.

Victor Oladipo is not a superstar. He is also not getting paid like a superstar in the long-term with a max contract and his deal will continue to look better comparatively after the now-budget deals for players like George, Kawhi Leonard (18.8), Jimmy Butler (18.7) and John Wall (16.7) dry up in the next couple of seasons.

Look at some of the middling, average wings that hit free agency in the last two years: Tim Hardaway, Jr. just got a deal worth over $17.5 million per year; Kent Bazemore makes an average of $17.5 million per year at the end of his deal; Allen Crabbe will make $19.3 million this season. Wings get paid in today’s NBA, and Oladipo will have plenty of opportunities to show he’s worth his $21 million as a featured player for the Pacers this season.

Attempting to inflate the OKC-IND trade in OKC’s favor by using next season’s contract number against Oladipo is unfair and a little lazy. Context matters. When players like Detroit’s KCP (18) or J. J. Redick (23) sign one year contracts at that value, it becomes a little easier to see the upside in locking down your starting shooting guard for the long-term, when the Pacers might be good again, at a flat rate, especially when only his deal and Myles Turner’s future extension will be taking up any real space on the Pacers books in just a couple seasons.

 

Paul George explains why he didn’t want to stay in Indiana

“I’m sorry for not holding on, but I wasn’t sure we’d ever get a team together to compete for a championship and that’s where all this came from,” Paul George told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated on why he decided he was going to leave the Indiana Pacers.

George, who went to two Eastern Conference Finals and missed the playoffs just once in his seven years with the Pacers (the season lost to his broken leg), didn’t think winning would be possible in Indiana.

“I kind of felt a rebuild coming,” said George. “I felt like the window had closed. I thought they were going in a different direction and I wanted to go in a different direction.”

Kevin Pritchard, Pacers President of Basketball Operations, would probably disagree with George’s assessment that a rebuild was coming.

“For me, it was a gut punch,” Pritchard said on draft night about learning George’s decision. “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 a style we’d like to play. In my opinion, I was very inclusive with George and the message over the summer up until this weekend was, ‘Let’s build a winning team.’ When that came in that he wanted to look at another place, it was a gut punch for us.”

Before Paul George announced that he was leaving, Gordon Hayward was considering a return to his hometown team according to Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports, though he likely would have still chosen to reunite with his Butler head coach Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics.

Perhaps George wasn’t as thrilled with Pritchard’s potential targets as Pritchard thought he was, but Pritchard seemed to think communication between the two was great once he was hired and George even said as much in his now-infamous “I’m a Pacer” interview at a charity softball event just days before his agent told the team he wouldn’t be returning.

“His mind is in the right place in terms of players I want to play with and be around,” said George of Pritchard during the softball event. “It’s going to be tough, as it would be anywhere to attract players so we’ll see how we shape this team up.”

George tells Jenkins that Larry Bird leaving seemed to be the catalyst in George deciding for sure that he was going to be leaving. From Jenkins article:

Throughout 2016, George followed the dog-eared free-agent playbook, betraying little about his future plans. “I straddled the fence,” he says. “‘Let’s see how this team shapes up and we’ll let you know.’ There was no, ‘Hey, I’m sticking around,’ and no, ‘Hey, I’m leaving.’” Not until June, after Pacers president Larry Bird resigned, did he sense a shift in the franchise and in himself. The core that reached the Eastern Conference Finals three years ago—George Hill, David West, Roy Hibbert—were all gone, as was the legendary architect. “Here I am, the last guy, and I kind of felt a rebuild coming,” George says.

Lance Stephenson would probably disagree that George was the last guy here from those teams.

“There’s no right way to handle it,” George said of his decision to leave. “I get the frustration. I get why people are upset. But at the same time, I want the average fan to understand that we only get a small window to play this game and more than anything you want to be able to play for a championship. I wanted to bring that to Indiana. I really did. I love Indiana. That will always be a special place for me and I’m sorry for not holding on. But I wasn’t sure we’d ever get a team together to compete for a championship and that’s where all this came from.”

George says that the Lakers interest is overstated, which if true, will not help Pacers fans remember him fondly as his agent killed any leverage the Pacers had by telling teams he wouldn’t re-sign anywhere but with the Lakers.

“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan,” George told Jenkins. “I idolized Kobe. There will always be a tie here, a connection here. People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city. But it’s definitely been overstated. For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I’ve yet to do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”

George is now saying that other stars would have to be committing to the Lakers for him to want to be there. He’s hopeful that he and Russ can attract a third star to OKC.

“It’s too early for L.A.,” he says. “It would have to be a situation where the ball gets rolling and guys are hopping on. This guy commits, that guy commits. ‘Oh s—, now there’s a team forming.’ It has to be like that.” But the same is true for virtually every locale outside of Oakland. “I’m in OKC, so hopefully me and Russ do a good enough job and make it to the conference finals and love the situation, why not recruit someone to come build it with us? I’m open in this whole process.”

Excuse the Indiana faithful if they’re skeptical of George’s intentions.

Kevin Pritchard found what he was looking for in Victor Oladipo

For a couple of weeks, we heard non-stop rumors about Paul George. Would it be Boston? Maybe some high draft picks, Bradley and plan for the future. Could it be Cleveland? Maybe a 3-team deal with Kevin Love for draft picks again. Maybe Denver? Gary Harris could come back to Indiana. How about Portland? Loads of mid-first-round picks and a role player? Or just ship him where he wants to go in Los Angeles? Late-round firsts and Julius Randle is all they’ll offer? Pass.

Fast forward to June 30th hours before free agency officially starts, and I bet not a single fan or NBA junkie was expecting to hear Oklahoma City and Paul George spoken in the same breath. But Ramona Shelburne tweeted it (Woj was waiting to start his new ESPN gig at midnight) and the madness became reality.

Paul George was going to OKC for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. No draft picks involved in the deal. The Pacers made the trade official today.

While we all have our opinions on Kevin Pritchard should have done or should have taken, we’ll never know what any of the other offers actually were. We’ll hear rumblings, especially from Boston, but only Pritchard knows what he had on the table and why he felt like he couldn’t wait another week before pulling the trigger on the OKC deal.

While the trade has been mostly panned by critics, there are a few things to consider.

First: The draft isn’t a sure fire thing. Sure a top-15 pick is more likely to warrant a higher caliber player, but busts outnumber the success stories in some drafts. A known commodity that has some NBA experience and still has room to grow is sometimes better than an unknown draft pick. Even most of the rumored offered didn’t include a top-15 pick anyway.

Second: The OKC front office is one of the most esteemed in the league. They viewed Oladipo and Sabonis as obviously valuable. They just gave Oladipo a 4-year, $84 million contract extension. You don’t give that to a player you don’t think is any good. And they spent a first-round pick on Sabonis last year and it’s unlikely they were ready to give up on him after just one season.

“We feel very strongly about the potential Victor and Domantas bring to our team and what they mean for the future of the franchise,” said Pritchard in the Pacers statement officially announcing the trade. “Both are highly competitive, highly skilled and both are winners. That is why both were lottery picks, that is why we sought them out to be part of this deal.”

Of the three big names traded in the offseason (Chris Paul, Paul George, Jimmy Butler), Oladipo might be the best over Patrick Beverly and Zach LaVine.

So what are the Pacers getting in Oladipo and Sabonis?

You can read about why you should be cautiously optimistic about Sabonis here.

Victor Oladipo, 25, returns to Indiana where he spent three years collegiately down the road at Indiana University.

With a new era emerging for the Pacers organization, Pritchard has already told us what he wants the new identity for this Pacers team to look like.

“I think if you look at some of the teams that are successful, it gets a little position-less, and they just have flyers all over the court,” Pritchard said in his opening press conference as president of basketball operations. “It’s drive and kick and shoot a lot of threes, and then back on defense you can switch. I’d like to get more to that.”

He also emphasized physicality and toughness.

Let’s start with shooting, Oladipo, who averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last season, has been steadily improving his jump shot each year of his career as his shooting percentages have gone up after each season. He’s gone from shooting 41.9% in his rookie season to 44.2% overall and from 32.7% as a rookie to 36.1% from 3-point range.

Despite popular belief to the contrary, Oladipo can shoot the 3-pointer, he’s just incredibly inconsistent. He’s similar to CJ Miles in the past in that he’ll go through stretches where he can’t miss, but then it’ll seem like he hasn’t made a three for weeks right after. These are his monthly percentages splits from long range:

October: 25%
November: 44.2%
December: 25%
January: 35.8%
February: 25%
March: 49.2%
April: 18.2%
Playoffs: 34.4%

If he can find some consistency with his shot, he might push that 3-point percentage up to 38-40% where defensives will have to respect his outside shot. This will be paramount to his long-term success as a Pacer.

This past season spent alongside ball dominant Russell Westbrook gave him plenty of opportunity to play off the ball and spot up more, albeit at the detriment of his driving preference. His catch-and-shoot ability has definitely improved.

Oladipo is known for having a great work ethic, so if he never finds a consistent shot it won’t be from a lack of trying.

On defense, Oladipo definitely fits the bill as a player that can switch onto multiple positions and in the defensive-minded mold Pritchard wants. He receives a handful of votes each year for the all-defensive teams and he’ll be a definite improvement defensively for the Pacers at the shooting guard position. So long, Monta Ellis.

The fact that he can play both ends of the court is best part about his game. He won’t be a liability on either end though he has room to improve in both areas. Per NBAWowy, the Thunder were a net 7.1 points per 100 possessions better with Oladipo on the court than off.

You just might not want him to be guarding any children.

If he spends time on the court with Lance Stephenson, Oladipo can guard point guards while Stephenson can run the offense on one end but guard bigger wings on the other.

Oladipo can also be a ferocious finisher at the rim as he won the Dunk of the Year at the first NBA Awards show and he’s competed in a slam dunk contest in the past.

As former Pacers player and current announcer Clark Kellogg once said, “Victor Oladipo is like a baby’s bottom, smooth and sometimes explosive.” At times, he does make poor decisions on his aggressive drives as he averaged nearly as many turnovers as assists (2.6 assists and 1.8 turnovers) last season. His assist numbers were career lows; however, that’s due to playing with Westbrook who ran everything in OKC.

But what is Oladipo’s ceiling? He’s now been in the league for four full seasons. Can he become more than a solid starter or rotation player? Is he just a great sixth man? The Pacers have him under contract for the next four years to figure out if he can become more. Time will tell if the Pacers bet on Oladipo was a good one.

Shelburne: Paul George has been traded to the Thunder

The saga is over. Paul George has been acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

She’s reporting that Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis are going to Indiana. It looks like no draft picks will be coming the Pacers way.

Multiple outlets have confirmed the trade. No draft picks appear to be part of the deal.

The Pacers get two young players in Oladipo and Sabonis. The former IU star Oladipo is 25 and just starting a 4-year contract worth $84 million and Sabonis was last year’s 11th pick.

Oladipo averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists last year with the Thunder. Sabonis averaged 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game in his rookie season.

Celtics and Pacers seem far apart in Paul George negotiations

Yesterday, it was reported that the last demand from Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers to the Celtics for Paul George was starting player(s) plus the 2018 Nets first-round pick and the 2018 Lakers or 2019 Kings first-round pick. The Celtics found this to be “unrealistic.”

Today, Zach Lowe of ESPN reported that the Celtics haven’t offered any of the following in a potential trade for George: the 2018 Nets first-round pick, the 2018 Lakers or 2019 Kings first-round pick, Jaylen Brown, or Jayson Tatum. 

So neither of the picks that Pritchard wants are currently on the table for the Pacers. Lowe states that his guess for the Celtics standing offer is currently something like Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and either of the protected first-round picks that Boston owns from the Grizzlies and Clippers.

Maybe this will change if the Celtics sign Gordon Hayward in free agency and then Paul George says that he’s open to staying in Boston past just this season. The path to this may have already started as the Jazz have acquired Ricky Rubio, which means George Hill will be going elsewhere. Hayward was rumored to be wanting the Jazz to re-sign Hill, so he may be more likely to leave now that Hill’s gone.

The Rubio trade also created another suitor for Pacers free agent Jeff Teague as the Timberwolves will be in need of a point guard.

But as of now on the eve of free agency, it appears that a deal between the Pacers and Celtics isn’t close to happening without a compromise that leads somewhere in the middle of the Pacers demands and the Celtics current offer. Lowe states that if one of the picks that Pritchard covets moves into the deal, it’s likely George becomes a Celtic.

Pacers have high demands to make a Paul George trade with Celtics

Kevin Pritchard is continuing to play hardball and be as patient as possible while trying to get the most he possibly can in a Paul George trade.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reports that Pritchard’s current demands from the Celtics would be the Nets 2018 pick, the Lakers 2018 pick, and starting player(s).

Danny Ainge and the Celtics see this as “unrealistic.”

It was reported previously by The Vertical that the Celtics would be willing to part with a significant amount of assets for George if they are able to sign Gordon Hayward in free agency, but Pritchard’s demands are even higher than what that rumored package from the Celtics would be in this situation.

There’s no issue with Pritchard aiming high for now as he still has plenty of time before the season to find a deal for George. It’s unlikely his demands will remain this high, but it could at least push Ainge to offer a little more than they would have originally, especially if they’re able to sign Hayward.

Woj: Celtics trying to pair Gordon Hayward and Paul George

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported today that the Boston Celtics are wanting to get a commitment from Gordon Hayward once free agency starts on July 1 and then acquire Paul George in a trade with the Indiana Pacers.

Woj’s league sources tell him that the Celtics have a strong belief that they’ll be able to re-sign George to an extension and that is making them more likely to part with a significant package of players and picks.

The Pacers believe the Celtics could potentially offer the best package, but Woj says they may not want to wait until free agency to make a deal for George.

The Celtics have young players like Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Jae Crowder as well as a plethora of potential high draft picks in their arsenal to create a suitable package for George.

If Celtics GM Danny Ainge is willing to give up some of these prized assets, Kevin Pritchard won’t find a better deal for George, but Ainge has been notoriously reluctant to part with very much in recent years in potential deals.

Woj also reports that the Celtics backup plan is to try and sign Blake Griffin to pair with George.

Meanwhile, George has apparently already tried to recruit Klay Thompson to play with him in Los Angeles.

Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pacers have talked 3-way Paul George trade

The latest rumor in the Paul George saga is that Cleveland may have found a team interested in Kevin Love in the Denver Nuggets to facilitate the 3-team deal to acquire George, according to Marc Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN.

The Nuggets have the perfect group of young prospects and picks that Kevin Pritchard may desire to kick start the Pacers rebuild.

Their best young players Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are untouchable according to Stein, but they still have young players in Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, Emmanuel Mudiay, Juan Hernangomez, Trey Lyles and new draft pick Tyler Lydon.

Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and Mudiay are known to be available currently and could help match salaries. In one version of the 3-team deal,  Faried would actually end up in Cleveland according to Stein.

The Pacers were also rumored to be interested in Danilo Gallinari before the Paul George announcement, but perhaps he could be part of a sign and trade though that seems unlikely.

The rumored deal was talked about during draft night, but they were unable to reach an agreement then. The Nuggets may not want to give up a package of assets that Pritchard feels like is enough at this time as he’s been determined to take a patient, methodical approach to try and get the best deal possible.

Myles Turner says he’s ready to be the face of the Pacers franchise

Myles Turner’s maturity level is well above the typical 21-year-old kid, and soon he’ll have a lot more responsibility to the Indiana Pacers organization than most players his age will ever have to their own.

The Pacers couldn’t ask for someone better to take it all on.

“Without a doubt,” Turner told Alex Kennedy on his HoopsHype podcast when asked if he’s ready to become the face of the Pacers franchise. “… I feel like I’m ready to take on more. I want to become a leader. Why not start early?”

With Paul George essentially giving his 2-weeks notice when he had his agent tell the team he doesn’t plan on signing an extension and is off to Los Angeles in 2018, the Pacers have to feel fortunate to be able to immediately start building their franchise around a player with the potential and professionalism of Turner.

“Be a leader,” Turner told Kennedy when asked about his individual goals for next season.

Turner, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, seems acutely aware of the George-sized void that will soon leave the organization and need filled.

When asked about his reaction to Larry Bird saying he could potentially become the greatest Pacers player ever during last season, Turner said, “After the initial shock, you start to believe it. When you have someone who is so confident in you and an organization that is so confident in your abilities and your future, it only motivates you to keep working and work harder and get better everyday.”

As for what Turner wants to improve on with all of his hard work, he said “all aspects of his game,” but specifically mentioned facing up in the mid post, improving his 3-point shot further, and defending the pick and roll. In other interviews this offseason, he’s said his focus is getting stronger and working on his post game.

Turner’s reaction to the news that George would be leaving: “Alright, well, what’s next? We have to start rebuilding and look at what we can do for our future. That was my initial thought.”

Turner’s love for the organization and for the state of Indiana, where he’s embraced the community since his rookie season with his WARM initiative, were evident in the podcast as he talked for a couple of minutes about his favorite things in Indiana including the food, the summer weather and how great of a sports town Indianapolis is. He had very high praise for the Simons, is excited for the Pacers new practice facility and called the Pacers a “Grade-A organization.”

In these dark times when the star player of the team decides he no longer wants to be a part of the organization that drafted him, Pacers fans are eager to start the era of the future face of the Pacers, someone that wants to be in Indiana: Myles Turner.

Paul George Draft Day Trade Rumors

This will be updated throughout the day until a trade happens.

Woj on the Vertical’s draft show just stated that Pacers do not expect that a Paul George deal will happen tonight. The Celtics talks broke down and stalled in the middle of the first round.

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The Lakers traded the 28th pick to the Jazz which would officially end the possibility of the deal on the table of 27, 28, and either Randle or Clarkson. At this point, it doesn’t seem likely that the Pacers are going to find a deal tonight and may have to wait until after free agency.

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Pacers draft a sweet-shooting power forward from UCLA in TJ Leaf. Some other players were on the board that may have been interesting, but Pacers went with Leaf. Myles Turner likes him.

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Talks have stalled with Pacers and Celtics.

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Celtics in serious talks for Paul George, but still a ways to go.

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This would take the Wolves out of the Paul George sweepstakes.

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Wolves talks for George have involved Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and picks. If it was all of the above, I’m not sure what the Pacers are waiting on to accept the offer.

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Rockets still trying to get George from Indiana, but it may be a complicated thing to pull off.

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Blazers pursuit seems to have failed.

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Newest contenders in the Paul George race are the Trailblazers and the Spurs. Even better news, PG and the Spurs have mutual interest. This is the first time that George has had any interest in a team other than the Lakers, which is great news for Pritchard and his leverage. This could force LA to up their offer. While George wouldn’t commit past this season, it would seem to leave some hope for Spurs in keeping him that he’s interested in at least this season.

Kyler reports he has no sense of the Spurs offer. They have been searching for LaMarcus Aldridge trade partners.

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The Timberwolves are a team that has not been mentioned previously in the PG rumors. Perhaps something like #7 and LaVine for George?

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It appears George has already begun moving, but Myles Turner tweeted out that this wasn’t his house before deleting that tweet, so who knows.

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The Cavaliers have exited the Paul George race as they could not get teams interested in Kevin Love in any potential 3-team deals.

Paul George Trade Rumors Day 4

This page will be updated throughout the day with the latest Paul George rumors with the most recent news at the top.

This article states the 27, 28 picks plus either Clarkson or Randle remains the Lakers offer, but Pacers have yet to accept. Teams remain at a standstill at this point.

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The best offers are the suspected to be most likely suspects by league executives. The Celtics, Lakers, and Cavaliers all known to be making plays for George.

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Even with the willing to wait talk from earlier today, it would be surprising if the Pacers dragged this out past draft night tomorrow.

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https://twitter.com/thevertical/status/877698401160151040

This could be an opportunity for the  Cavaliers to see if Phoenix is interested in Kevin Love and make it a 3-team trade to get Paul George, or (less likely) the Suns may want Paul George.

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Cavs still trying to get George, while Amico reports that Pacers are still hoping to get a deal done by draft night, which contradicts the reports that they’re willing to wait. 

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Kravitz joins the Indy Star’s Nate Taylor in reporting that Pacers are willing to wait this out in hopes of better offers.

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Here’s a bunch of possible deals the Pacers could try and pursue for George. More added with five new teams today.

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Kevin Arnovitz says the Trailblazers have the best package to offer George, but this doesn’t mean that Portland has made an offer to this point. The Trailblazers have 3 first round picks at 15, 20, and 26 which are all better than the two Lakers picks on the table.

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On The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski podcast, Woj gave a lot of information on the current trade of the trade market for Paul George.

Woj said the Pacers are not very enthusiastic about any of the Lakers young guys like Randle, Russell, or Clarkson, which explains at least one reason why the Pacers haven’t accepted the 27, 28 picks plus Randle or Clarkson for George at this point.

The Pacers believe they can get a better deal than what the Lakers are currently offering. Woj says there is a lot of action and a lot of teams trying to get involved in talks with the Pacers.

Pritchard has done a good job of building up a market from Sunday to now when other executives were telling Woj that the Pacers would only be able to get a mid-to-late first rounder and a decent expiring contract. “They’re going to get more than that,” said Wojnarowski.

Woj speculates that some teams think they’ll be able to flip him at the deadline after acquiring him and that many mid-to-large market teams will be interested.

Woj states that the Pacers aren’t looking to “do right” by George or do any favors for the Lakers, but they are going to take the best possible deal available for them.

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In non-Paul George news, Lance Stephenson announced that he will be wearing his number 1 once again next season.
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Nate Taylor reports that a trade isn’t imminent currently, but that the Pacers expect the offers to improve tomorrow on the day of the draft.

One of Taylor’s sources said that George’s value will only decline if the Pacers don’t find a deal during draft night. He says the Pacers, however, do not feel rushed to make a deal and could wait until training camp. Among the teams that Kevin Pritchard is talking to include the Cavaliers, the Rockets, and the Lakers according to Taylor.

The Lakers offer of the 27th and 28th picks in the first round plus either Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson would have to improve greatly to be acceptable for the Pacers according to Taylor.

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If you missed anything from yesterday, here’s everything that went down.

Paul George Trade Rumors Day 3

This story will be updated throughout the day with the latest Paul George news, most recent at the top:

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Click here for today’s updating rumors page.

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Rumor mill will surely keep churning until the deal happens.

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Lakers tried to get the two Kings top-10 picks for the 2nd pick so they could send one to the Pacers, but Kings said no. This lines up with the report from earlier today that 2nd pick could be in play if a third team got involved.

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Pacers and Lakers at a standstill on the Randle or Clarkson and 27 and 28 for George. It still seems likely Pacers find a deal before the draft.

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Stein is now reporting that Lakers are trying to get George for two late first rounders and either Clarkson or Randle.

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There will be no DeAngelo Russell for the Pacers in any deal as the Lakers get rid of the Mozgov contract by shipping them both to the Nets for Lopez and 27th pick.

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Jimmy Butler has told the Bulls that he wants to remain with the team and doesn’t want to go to Cleveland, which may help the Pacers convince the Cavs to further pursue George.

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This whole time the Lakers have said they aren’t getting rid of number 2 pick or Ingram, so this is a pleasant surprise for the Pacers, though it is unclear how a third team would help the teams reach a deal at this point.

The Lakers could want an early first round pick to replace their lost number 2 pick. Reports earlier said they were trying to acquire one. The Pacers may want another young prospect and may not want any Lakers that they are willing to give up.

Here is one interesting fan suggestion that may work.

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Schultz is saying that George will be moved soon, which differs from reports earlier today.

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The Pacers and the Lakers are officially talking deals. No word on details yet. Stein confirms that the Pacers have also talked with the Cavaliers, Clippers, Wizards and Rockets so far.

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The Pacers reportedly tried to get the Warriors and the Cavaliers in a bidding war with each other, telling each team that the other was interested.

This story also says that several league executives expect this saga to last a long period of time and potentially drag out into the season, because many teams won’t be willing to offer more than a good player and a second-round pick. Deals that Pritchard would not be willing to take.

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Here’s some hypothetical deals the Pacers could try to pursue for George.

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In other Pacers news, it seems that Lavoy Allen is expecting his team option to be declined by the Pacers.

If you missed anything from the past couple of days, you can find it here.