This time a year ago, the Pacers didn’t know if they were coming or going. Their supposed franchise star said he wanted out to go home to Los Angeles. The small market Pacers were being forced into a decision they didn’t want to make but knew they had to, that is how the NBA works. Big time stars who are unhappy have leverage. Call it bruised feelings, the Pacers weren’t shipping Paul George to where he wanted to go. It helped that the Lakers were unwilling to part with Brandon Ingram or the number two pick in the 2017 draft. The Pacers even considered suing the Lakers for tampering with George, as if the Lakers came up with the George to L.A. idea all on their own. As they settled in, the Pacers decided to do what was best for them. Paul George just didn’t matter. He was yesterday.
The trade with the Thunder took everyone by surprise. The Thunder had been averse to spending money. They shipped out James Harden because they didn’t want to pay the extra tax of the max Harden salary. With George and Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams, the Thunder had three max players, not to mention when Carmelo Anthony came aboard later, they were stressed. The Thunder were in salary cap hell. Furthermore, no one thought much of Victor Oladipo. He didn’t do much when he was paired with Russell Westbrook and he wasn’t equal talent to Paul George.
But one year later, everything is upside down. Turns out Paul George didn’t want to go to the Lakers after all. He just wanted a get out of jail free card. Wherever they shipped George, he would have signed a long term extension. He just wanted out of Indy. It had nothing to do with going home or a large market or even his childhood dream of being a Laker. He needed to storm the palace gates and get out of town but it wasn’t the Lakers town and for Indy that was a good thing, not having George thrown in their face every time the Lakers were on television.
The Pacers are in a better place than the Thunder. Victor Oladipo dragged the Pacers into the playoffs and went toe to toe with the King. The Pacers just signed a shooter in Doug McDermott who hasn’t lived up to his three point Kyle Korver-like persona. His career has had a lot of ups and downs, primarily because he doesn’t play defense. But he does have potential. Myles Turner needs this upcoming season to be his almost an All-Star year season. The Pacers have a big need at the point guard position. Darren Collison can’t be a starter on a contending team. But the Pacers are better situated for playoff wins than the Thunder. They aren’t top heavy and filled with egos. They have a bench. And they play in the East. If LeBron goes west, the Pacers are suddenly thrust into a top-4 seed favorite.
- The Pacers don’t have a player who is a ball dominant wants the ball to himself all of the time and forgets he his teammates.
- The Pacers haven’t mortgaged the team with the luxury tax, narrowing who they can sign as role players
- The Pacers don’t have an over the hill once upon a time star who refuses to come off the bench because he thinks Carmelo Anthony today is Carmelo Anthony of yesterday
- The Pacers don’t have a coach who can’t…um…really coach.
Sometimes in life what you get is not what you asked for but it is the best thing in the world for you. Hello Pacers. This is your new life. It’s looking pretty damn good after Paul George.