Paul George may have played his final game as an Indiana Pacer. Since leading the Pacers to back-to-back conference finals in 2013 and 2014, George hasn’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs. Indiana is 125-121 over the last three seasons and seems to be getting worse as George continues to get better.
Ultimately, what will happen with George this offseason?
“I think he needs the help and I think Larry (Bird) has tried to get him that in the best of his ability, but it’s not a perfect science,” former Pacer Danny Granger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “You fall short, and I think the frustration with him playing in the middle of his prime and where he is as far as in his personal career, he wants to win. Sometimes if you can’t win where you’re at, you got to leave. It’s just that simple. That’s just the nature of the business.”
George, who turns 27 on May 2, averaged 28.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals in Indiana’s first-round series against Cleveland. Nevertheless, the Pacers were swept, losing four games by a combined 16 points.
“I love Indiana and I would love to see him stay in Indiana,” said Granger, who played for the Pacers from 2005-14. “But as Paul gets older, he wants to win – and that’s the same mindset that a lot of players go through. They just want to win. You look at Kevin Durant and all the criticism he took for leaving Oklahoma City. The dude just wanted to win. As a player, I get it. Paul, he loves Indiana. He’s had great years in Indiana. He wants to win. If he doesn’t believe that they can win, then it’s common sense for him to go to another team. I hate saying that because I would love to see him stay in Indiana, but you can’t stop a person from wanting to succeed in their career. We have a very short window to accomplish what we’ve been building up our lives for.”
Granger doesn’t think George cares a whole lot about money, mainly because he already has a lot of it. But he does think – or better yet, he knows – that George desperately wants to win.
“You look at him in that press conference (after losing to Cleveland) and his face and the dejection on it – the guy wants to win,” Granger said. “Money don’t make everybody happy, but winning and success and your craft, that does fill a void that a lot of these players have. So you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana, I’ll tell you that.”
Granger believes that the Lakers are a likely destination for George, who is from Palmdale, California. The Lakers have missed the playoffs in four consecutive years but have a young core. They also have the ability to attract marquee free agents.
“If LeBron wasn’t from Cleveland, he wouldn’t be at Cleveland,” Granger said, laughing. “It’s hard to get big-time free agents to come to those cold, Midwest cities when you’re going to go through three or four months of the season in snow and no sun. It’s hard to get someone to commit to that when Los Angeles is an option. I think Los Angeles is a prime spot because they can attract whoever they want and he can help in the recruiting process.”