The Pacers have been roundly mocked for what they received from the Thunder in exchange for Paul George. While Victor Oladipo and former first round pick Domantas Sabonis are both capable players, they're nowhere close to equal return for a star player of George's caliber.
The deal only looks worse if the reported deals that Indiana passed up on are true. It's hard to know how seriously to take these reports, because nothing is concrete at the moment. However, if true, then Indiana really dropped the ball on a far better return for George. There's a rumor going around that the Celtics made an offer for George at the deadline and draft night involving three first-round picks and two starters.
"In their latest attempts to get George over the last several days, they were unwilling to include next year's first-round draft pick from Brooklyn or the Lakers 2018
Sacramento 2019 pick they received from Philadelphia as an inducement for moving down from No. 1 to 3 in this year's draft. The Celtic also did not want to part with their top picks from the last two years, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
But sources confirmed the C's were more than ready to give the Pacers players with better contracts and multiple draft picks other than the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph. The best offer was two starters — almost certainly Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley — and three first-round draft picks."
It's hard to not take deals involving Boston with a grain of salt these days, because every time the Celtics miss out on a trade a report later comes out that they offered the world in the reported deal they missed out on. That said, if Boston truly did offer this then there's no conceivable way to defend Indiana for passing on these deals. All of them are better than what George received.
There was also a reported deal that would have sent Paul George to the Cavaliers, Kevin Love to the Nuggets and brought Gary Harris to Indiana. This return might not sound as great, but it would likely have involved draft picks and been far less expensive for them salary wise. This deal could also be argued as better return than what they ended up with.
Stan Kronke, Dan Gilbert agreed to deal for Love to Denver, PG to Cavs & Gary Harris to Pacers. Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard reneged, I'm told— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) July 1, 2017
It's hard to make out what deals were actually discussed at the moment, but based on league reaction it's fair to say that better offers were made for Paul George than what ended up being taken. Why Indiana chose to go the way they did is unknown, but it's hard to defend the trade at the moment with everything coming out in response to it.