Before L.A. and OKC, Paul George was forging his legacy in Indiana. From 2010 to 2017, PG13 was the shining star of the Pacers, averaging 18 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on 43% shooting.
But when he demanded a trade in the summer of 2018, it was seen as the ultimate betrayal and the fans found themselves asking: why did he want out so suddenly that year?
In a chat on the Players Tribune, he finally explained his departure.
“I ain’t gon’ say the names, because I’m going to keep their business private, I’ma just say it like this. I had at the time, the best power forward saying he wanted to come to Indy and team up with me.”
“They’re like, ‘we’re a mid-major, we’re a small market, like, we can’t do it, we’re a small market, we can’t afford that.’ I’m like the best power forward wants to come play here, like, y’all can’t make that work? They didn’t want to do it.”
“So I’m like, now I’m pissed, because it’s like, what am I doing here? You know what I mean? They don’t want to win. I’ve got the best power forward that wants to come play here. Not everybody chooses Indy to come play here.”
So, the Pacers didn’t want to spend the money to bring in some backup. To George, it was a sign that the team wasn’t willing to do what was necessary to win — and he was right.
As for the power forward that wanted to sign, people have been speculating about who that might’ve been. Considering the timing, the most likely candidates seem to be either LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin.
Whatever the case, it was Indy’s reluctance to spend that forced their star out of town. And while they’re in decent enough shape now, you have to wonder how things could have been now had they still had George leading the way.