Amico: By George, Pacers sticking to guns

Sam Amico

Paul George is still in Indiana, although it's not really the fault of the Pacers or the mass of opposing teams that expressed interest.

It's just the way it is.

You know the story by now -- the star small forward has informed the Pacers he will opt out of his contract at the end of the season. He has told everyone else he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Given the state of the Lakers over the last three seasons, that is a peculiar demand. But hey, at least George can't be accused of chasing rings.

Either way, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said the timing may have been a bit off. Or really off.

"It couldn't have come at a worse time," Pritchard told reporters in Indianapolis following Thursday's NBA draft. "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."

The Pacers worked on a multitude of deals, none of which blew them away. They spoke at great length with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and especially, the Boston Celtics.

Yet still, George remains a member of the Pacers.

"Multiple things came up," Pritchard said. "We looked at a lot of things that included draft picks -- but at the end of the day, there's so much other stuff that doesn't include picks that we decided to stay put and look at everything that's on the board.

"We're not going to make a bad deal. We want to get what we want."

George, 27, averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds this past season. The Pacers finished with the No. 7 seed and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Cavs.

In one of those games, George disappeared as the Pacers blew a 26-point lead.

While everyone knows he's a major star, most consider him a tier below greats such as the Cavs' LeBron James or Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant.

Sometimes, those are the hardest players for which to trade.

Nonetheless, the Pacers had hoped to cut a deal on draft day. Now, Pritchard indicated they will wait until training camp if necessary.

"We don't want to have to be rushed," Pritchard said. "We want to be methodical in our decision-making. We're going to look at everything. For Paul, it's not ideal. But it's not ideal for us. We have to do what's best for our organization."