Paul George had many years of success with the Pacers, but eventually it was time for the two sides to go their separate ways with Indiana trading George to the Thunder on July 1. This was probably the best for all parties involved because there was a definitely a sense of awkwardness in the split after it was reported that once he became a free agent and was destined to join Lakers.
George spoke with Sam Amick of USA Today on media day and opened up about how he ended up in OKC and what exactly his frustrations with Indiana were. Here's what he had to say about the trade to the Thunder
"I took it as it was a kick in the behind, like, 'Go ahead and go try to beat the Warriors. Go play alongside Russ and get your butt kicked against the Warriors.' That's how I looked at how that trade went down, because honestly we had no idea OKC was even interested or was in the trade until the trade actually happened. But again, I'm not here to trash Indiana. They have some of the best people I've ever met in their front office and in that organization. I grew up there. I could go on and on (with) the positives in Indiana, but that's where my thought process and my - that's where I, I guess, my opportunity to leave had opened up."
Based on his comments, it appears as if he had some frustrations building up over time that could have potentially started all the way back in 2014 when Indiana traded Danny Granger away.
"I just want to touch on, man, on my situation. I've seen a guy that played for that (Pacers) organization, gave that organization everything they had, or everything he had, and was essentially traded to the dogs. And I'm speaking on Danny Granger, who was one of the better players in Pacers history. And at the time, they traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. And this was a guy that was battling injuries, and that's where you send him? The guy is trying to get back on his feet, trying to work back to this league, (and) you send him to the Philadelphia Sixers? Why, because that makes you better? Do what's right by the player that's given you everything. So (there) was a lot of that in my seven years there, a lot of that kind of played a role and (took) a toll on me on, 'Well, what will they do to me now? Like, where would I go?' So you know, it was, I think, God had me in this situation.
The Pacers were considered contenders with George and Granger, but the Granger trade happened to be part of the beginning of the turning point for George. As players left Indiana a lot of them publicly criticized the team, and now that George is in OKC, it makes sense why he would be frustrated with a franchise that he was so successful with early on.
However, it is a little strange that after such a clean break up with the Pacers he's chosen to publicly criticize the organization. He said he doesn't want to trash the Pacers, but this definitely doesn't paint them in a positive light. That said, it's something he wanted to get out there publicly so it's clearly something that's been on his mind.