The Paul George debacle began two years, three months ago.
April 17, 2015: Larry Bird tells the media he wants Paul George to play power forward.
Also known as the beginning of the end. George never had any interest in playing power forward; he had no desire to change his style of play. At this point, the last two seasons George had been healthy, the Pacers were one of the best five teams in the league. Bird saw that the league was playing smaller but George wanted nothing to do with it.
January 28, 2016: Frank Vogel switches his lineup to put George back at small forward.
George had whined and complained his way through the offseason. He was insistent he didn’t want to play power forward. Lucky for him Myles Turner emerged as a starter and made his first career start at that position. The Pacers had lost seven of their last nine games and George was starting to become unhappy.
May 1, 2016: The Pacers lose their first-round series to the Toronto Raptors 4-3.
It was an odd series. George looked like the best player on the court by far. He managed to shut down Demar DeRozan (32 percent from the field and 18 percent from three). He averaged 27-7-4. George clearly had the talent to lead a team, he just needed some help.
Here comes the help...or so Pacer fans thought. The last bit of the Pacers' "glory days" under George ended when George Hill was replaced by Teague during draft week 2016. The chemistry would be out of whack all season. George would call the 2016-17 season his toughest season as an NBA player.
February 23, 2017: The trade deadline comes and goes, Paul George is still on the roster.
The writing was on the wall. It was the worst-kept secret in the NBA: George was hell-bent on playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pacers are treading water at this point. The team is 29-28 and the one bargaining chip Indiana had was the designated player extension, except now it seems worthless. George isn’t playing well and nobody expects him to make one of the three All-NBA teams.
From what we know, Indiana received trade offers from at least Boston, Philadelphia and Denver on deadline day. Boston claimed to have offered three first-round picks including what would become the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
April 23, 2017: The Pacers get swept by Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs.
This video of Cleveland’s 26-point comeback in game three says it all
May 1, 2017: Larry Bird steps down as Indiana Pacers President, Kevin Pritchard takes over.
Bird gets out before what is about to be the toughest NBA offseason in Pacers franchise history.
May 15, 2017: Paul George goes on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
May 18, 2017: Paul George doesn’t make an All-NBA team.
The last bargaining chip the Indiana Pacers had is out the door. If George had made the All-NBA team the Pacers could have offered him $75 million more than any other team in the league.
June 15, 2017: George goes to a celebrity softball game and says he’s ready to play for the Pacers next season.
June 18, 2017: George’s agent Aaron Mintz informs the Pacers that George intends to leave at the end of the season and wants to sign with the Lakers.
For a moment it seemed like George might stay, but Mintz snipped that right out. The already depressive trade market for George just got worse.
June 22, 2017: Draft night 2017 comes and goes
The Pacers flirted with Boston, Cleveland and Denver on George trades but didn’t pull the trigger. President Kevin Pritchard preaches patience at his post-draft press conference. Just listen to the first few minutes.
Pritchard waits a whole eight days after the draft to trade George! Surprisingly, no picks were involved in the trade. Just a year prior, the Thunder traded Serge Ibaka for the same package.
August 19, 2017: The Pacers file tampering charges against the Lakers.
Indiana wanted the NBA to investigate whether the Lakers illegally contacted George, stemming from the idea that Lakers president Magic Johnson’s appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in April. The NBA apparently warned Johnson after his appearance that what he said could be considered tampering.
August 31, 2017: The NBA fines the Lakers $500,000.
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka was guilty this time. He apparently had contact with George’s agent Mintz and expressed interest in signing George even though he was under contract. Remember Pelinka was a former agent and Mintz had other clients with the Lakers. Proving tampering is hard.
September 6, 2017: Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon announces he is not planning to sue the league or the Lakers over the Paul George debacle.
Bringing it full circle. Rumors had been swirling that Simon was pissed about the Paul George trade and how it went down. He released the following statement:
This marks the end of the Paul George saga involving the Pacers.
I could add one more thing...
July 1, 2018: Paul George signs a 4-year, $123 million contracts with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s going to happen.