Oh HELL YES. This is why 2020 is so awesome and there's nothing better than former players having a podcast. Current players open up and tell them shit that we've never heard before. Maybe this was common knowledge, but I certainly had never heard this story Paul George just told about his departure from the Pacers. I can understand not wanting to drop the names, but that's what I'm here for. Let's dive in to actually try and figure out who the hell he's talking about.
We know George is talking about the summer of 2017 because earlier in the podcast he talks about hearing trade rumors in his last All Star year in IND, which was the 2016-17 season. George was traded to OKC on June 30, 2017. He says he had the best PF in the NBA wanting to come to the Pacers. Well, here were the list of Power Forwards that were free agents in the summer of 2017
Sooooooo he's talking about Durant or Blake right? Who else could it be if he's saying he had the best PF in the league. Look at that list of available PFs. The team talking about not being able to afford it, well that is probably Durant's or Blake's max money right? George then talked about a dude coming off injury as an option. To me, that's Paul Millsap who played 69 games that season. A very fine player for sure, but hes not Blake/Durant. Later that summer he signed that deal with the Nuggets.
I feel for George in that instance because he's right. The Pacers aren't exactly a top tier free agent destination so if they have the option of adding someone like Durant/Blake and pairing him with George, you have to do it. I get they would probably be a luxury tax team, but welcome to life of a contender in the NBA. Something tells me they would have had a decent amount of success which would have helped their bottom line.
As someone who loves a good NBA "what if", that's certainly a good one. Does the narrative around Durant change if he ended up going to the Pacers and won a title? Blake Griffin wouldn't have been exiled to the Pistons 5 seconds after signing his extension with the Clippers that's for sure. If there's no Durant on the 2017-18 Warriors, maybe LeBron has another ring? There are so many angles you could go with this. If the Pacers just bit the bullet and paid whatever it took to keep their superstar happy who knows what happens. Maybe other legit players follow.
In the end, they traded him for Oladipo and Sabonis which isn't exactly a bad trade. Those are All Star players. But they aren't Paul George/Durant or Paul George/Blake. No wonder he got his ass out of there.
So who do you think George was talking about? I don't see how it could be anyone other than Durant or Blake.