Indiana Pacers threaten implosion by refusal to push the button on Paul George

Dan O'Shea

For the 28 lucky teams that don’t have to play the Warriors in a nationally televised execution widely known as the NBA Finals, the focus is on building next year’s roster. There are a few teams who are actually trying to formulate a way to either poison Durant and the Splash Brothers or create a roster that can somehow compete against them. There are a few stars that can be added to current “contenders” and help them make the push, but few are more enticing than Pacers’ superstar Paul George. The only problem is, for some reason, Indiana won’t part ways with him. 

Look, it’s never easy to hit the eject button. Some captains like to go down with their ship and it’s admirable, in a “here lies _____, he died standing up for what he believes in” sort of way. Those are viewed more as cautionary tales though, not exactly blueprints for success. Apparently, Indy’s GM Keith Pritchard is a go down with the ship kind of guy.

 

 

Somebody hurry up and buy Pritchard a copy of Titanic on Blu-ray, because at this point showing him what an actual sinking ship looks like could be the only way to save Indy from basketball purgatory.

It is reasonable to consider keeping your superstar. Teams are all going after young stars in the draft and building around them. It’s how you become a perennial playoff team, or a destination for other free agents to play alongside you. George is that kind of player. He’s can lock up on defense, and is the go-to scorer each team craves. In most situations, doing anything but holding on to that player for dear life would be suicide.

Except the man loves the Lakers more than Jack Nicholson.

 

Aside from shooting the man with an elephant tranquilizer and signing the contract for him, convincing him it was all his idea when he wakes up, it’s going to be impossible to convince George he has a chance at a title at any point in the future. The man just got a first hand look at the team who holds the East in the palm of their hand, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unless George has some sort of fetish where he likes getting beat like a piñata, he’s not going to want to have that annual meeting with LeBron every April. It certainly didn’t sound like it the way he called out his teammates game after game during the Cavs’ first round sweep.

“In situations like that, I got to get the last shot. I was asking for it. CJ took it upon himself.”

Paul George on CJ Miles taking the last shot

After the first two losses, George called out Miles for shooting when he shouldn’t have, Lance Stephenson for being too emotional, and Myles Turner for getting bullied down low on the boards by Tristan Thompson. That doesn’t really sound like a leader rallying his troops for the upset of the century. It sounds like Scarface from Half-Baked before he quits his job.

There’s no way the Pacers aren’t looking at the ruins left in Sacramento after the DeMarcus Cousins trade and thinking about their current situation. Cousins was on the block for years, but the Kings waited too long and got taken behind the woodshop to the tune of a Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a 2o17 1st round pick return. Trying to build around your stars is smart, but you have to know when it’s time to get out while the market’s hot. The last thing Indiana needs is George taking a jet to Hollywood the minute the Pacers are eliminated next season with nothing to show for it.

With the Pacers barely grabbing a playoff berth last season, you can’t think there’s a future for this team in the East, especially while LeBron has his band of merry superstars up in Cleveland. With Thad Young ($15 million), Monta Ellis ($11.2 million) and Al Jefferson ($9.8 million) all still on the roster, where is the cap room for an additional player who will convince George to stay? You might as well bring in a big return for the superstar who ISN’T RETURNING ANYWAY, and hope to strike gold once again in the lottery like you did years ago with George himself. Instead, this is the mindset for the Pacers.

 

Look, if you’re trying to be the next Brooklyn Nets, by all means, keep George. By keeping him and not accepting the fact that he’s already picking out his house in Beverly Hills, you’re just damning your franchise more than it already is. All you’re going to do is make more people look forward to Colts football every single year.

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