More than six months after trading Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Indiana Pacers are, relative to expectations, sitting rather pretty. They have a firm hold on an Eastern Conference playoff spot, plenty of salary-cap flexibility and, ostensibly, three legitimate building blocks in All-Star Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.
It seems like forever ago, in fact, that many of us, including yours truly, were criticizing them—specifically general manager Kevin Pritchard—for not getting more back in return for Paul George’s services. Why didn’t they take the Gary Harris deal that was reportedly on the table? Why didn’t they try waiting out a three-team scenario that would’ve landed George with the Cleveland Cavaliers and No. 4 pick Josh Jackson in Indiana? Was Pritchard really adverse to sending George somewhere he wanted to go?
All of this stuff seldom matters now. At the very least, with the Thunder chasing Western Conference supremacy and the Pacers living out the best-possible post-George scenario, neither side should have any gripes. And Pritchard, for his part, said as much while speaking to the media on Sunday night, per 1070 The Fan’s Kevin Bowen:
On the Paul George trade: I think it was a win-win in terms of the trade. Paul is at a place where he has a chance to compete at the highest level against some of the best teams and for us we hit a little bit of the reset button, but Victor (Oladipo) has been at the very least super special for us and somebody we can really build around. Domas is like Hoosier basketball. He’s a lunch pale, hard hat kind of guy. We love that. That’s exactly what we want. What we forget about Domas is that he’s 21 years old. Him and Myles are the same age. As they grow together…”
“With that trade, we had 2 things on things on the board. We looked around the room and I asked (General Manager) Chad Buchanan which one do you want to do? He said I want to do Victor and Sabonis. (Front office member) Peter (Dinwidddie) said that and Herb (Simon) said that. If I was going to go against those 3, I was going to be in trouble. We feel pretty good about how that worked out. We know we got the right players because, quite frankly, they love being here. How important that is to us? That’s paramount to us”
The last part of this is sneaky interesting. We spent so much time lampooning Pritchard for his decision on this deal, when it turns out Indiana’s owner and general manager and a key front-office member were all-in on Oklahoma City’s offer as well. This was presumably because a combination of Oladipo and Sabonis gave the Pacers a better shot at remaining semi-relevant than a single rookie or just Gary Harris and salary fodder.
And, well, mission accomplished. For now, Pritchard is right: This deal looks like a win-win.