Pacers' Kevin Pritchard on Paul George: 'It couldn't have come at a worse time'

All-Star Jimmy Butler changed teams on Thursday night, but the other biggest name on the trade market did not join him during a relatively busy 2017 NBA draft.

Indiana Pacers wing Paul George was mentioned in several rumors and reports, but he was not dealt just four days after informing the team that he will not re-sign when his contract expires next summer. The Pacers will have to get some value for George before he leaves for nothing, and that means he’ll have to go at some point before next season’s trade deadline. For now, though, he remains on the books with the same club that drafted him with the 10th selection in the 2010 draft.

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That lack of movement means that Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard cannot yet look ahead to the team’s future. He spoke to the media on Thursday night, and the bulk of his comments concerned the uncomfortable situation in which Indiana now resides.






Pritchard also said he’s “confident we’ll get something,” so it does appear that he’s ready to make a move sooner rather than later. For now, though, he appears displeased with George and the situation as a whole.

Paul George is on his way out of Indiana, and he doesn’t seem to be leaving on good terms. (AP)

His position is understandable, not just for the obvious problem of having to trade away a really good player, but because George had said just last week that he intended to play for the Pacers for another season. While the news that he wants to leave doesn’t entirely contradict that point, the spirit of the comments is certainly quite different. Pritchard is in a tough position — he has to get whatever value he can for a terrific player, but he’s also not dealing from a position of strength.

Yet it’s not as if George is the only one who’s put the Pacers in this situation. Frankly, this situation was predictable as soon as now-former Pacers personnel boss Larry Bird did not trade George before last season’s deadline. His departure via free agency only looked more assured as soon as the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Pacers out of the first round in April.

If the Pacers weren’t planning to trade George this summer, then they were either OK with the idea of losing him for nothing or kidding themselves over their ability to contend and convince him to stay. The biggest change is that Pritchard now has to make the best available deal or risk looking woefully negligent. The pressure has increased, but the basic options are the same.

Pritchard obviously wants to trade George with the Pacers’ dignity intact, but he can’t put all the blame for this bad situation on the soon-to-be former face of the franchise. The Pacers got to this point with a mix of bad luck, some questionable moves, and at least one case of high-stakes inaction. It stinks, but it’s a standard part of running a mid-market NBA franchise.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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