To the surprise of the NBA community, the biggest trade on Draft Night for the Indiana Pacers was picking up the 52nd overall pick to select Edmond Sumner, not the much anticipated dealing of documented Laker fan Paul George.
Much of the discussion heading into the NBA Draft was that Indiana needed to move quickly on George, but Kevin Pritchard has opted to remain patient, dodging trade rumors with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics as he searches for a deal he can live with for the franchise.
"Today we didn't feel like we can get a deal done. I'm confident we can in the future." - @PacersKev— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 23, 2017
Indiana entered the draft swirling with rumors involving George and the Timberwolves, a deal that ultimately moved away from the Pacers in favor of Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls, parting with Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th overall pick. Whether Tom Thibadeu’s familiarity with Butler, the uncertainty of George’s commitment, or Chicago’s willingness to add their own first rounder into the mix, Indiana was left out of one opportunity, though another opened up shortly after.
With Butler off the market, Boston appeared ready to talk on George, but despite significant discussion, the two teams ultimately remained too far apart on a deal, with talks dying about 90 minutes into the draft. Beyond that, even the trade discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers dried up among the much discussed 27, 28, and Julius Randle/Jordan Clarkson deal, as the Lakers dealt the 28th pick to the Utah Jazz.
Though moving George for draft picks in tonight’s draft would have been an ideal situation, Pritchard’s floundering leverage appeared too much to overcome in regards to a deal that gives Indiana a chance to see a future in George’s departure, rather than settling for a deal that gives the Pacers assets that won’t work for them long term.
Despite a potential media circus as the league pushes forth towards the start of free agency on July 6, it is important to squeeze as much out of a bad situation as possible. As Pritchard stated in reference to George, “We didn’t put ourselves in this situation - he did,” which is mostly true, at least explicitly regarding the leverage killing Lakers talk, not so much the actual team building aspect of the Pacers the last two years.
"I know it's not ideal. But we didn't put ourselves in this situation - he did."— Miller Time Podcast (@MillerTimePod) June 23, 2017
- Pritchard on Paul George
That said, it’s still not entirely clear what direction Indiana will look to go in a post-George era, but if Pritchard’s quote on Jeff Teague is any indication, the search for the best offer may mean different things between the Indiana front office and the fans’ wish for a rebuild. This not only keeps George a Pacer or the time being, but it also creates an extra fun layer of uncertainty in how Pritchard will define “coming out all right.”