Less than 48 hours after the Indiana Pacers star challenged two more players in a postgame news conference, George fired back at the notion that he was not supportive of his team. “It’s complete ignorance, to be honest,” he said. “Everybody knows how close I am with my teammates and I said that only to motivate my teammates to win this series and win a championship. I didn’t say anything even close to throwing them under the bus. If I didn’t say nothing, it would have been another story.”
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The Pacers entered Tuesday in a three-way tie with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks for fifth place in the East. Both teams moved ahead of the Pacers, the Bucks defeating the Charlotte Hornets and the Hawks knocking off Phoenix. The eighth-place Miami Heat, who own the tiebreaker over Indiana, also beat the Detroit Pistons to move one game behind the Pacers. “We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up.”
“It’s tough losing a game here that we need knowing that we don’t play well on the road,” George said. “When we lose focus here, I’m not sure where our head is going to be as a team tomorrow. I’ll make sure to gather these guys around and let them understand, man, that we’ve got to win. That’s the only thing that’s important. The only thing that should be motivational is winning.”
Nate Taylor: Paul George: “There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride. This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”
Nate Taylor: Paul George: “To be honest, man, I don’t think I got the ball enough down the stretch. I don’t think I got the ball enough.”
Sirius XM NBA: “I don’t listen to reports. He is our leader and we don’t sense the frustration.” -@Aaron Brooks on media reports on @Paul George’s frustration
A. Sherrod Blakely: Paul George says the @Indiana Pacers are a “playoff team” at home and a “lottery team” on the road this season. #Celticstalk pic.twitter.com/fukNuR3bwl
Team president Larry Bird spent much of the day weighing the option of trading George to the Boston Celtics, a team that possesses several rotational players and valuable draft picks, including the lowly Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks in the next two drafts. Ultimately, Bird decided not to deal George with the hope the franchise can convince him to re-sign after his expected opt-out at the end of the 2017-18 season.
George, though, said he was not pleased that Bird considered trading him after previously vowing to sign George to a max contract. “I was kind of on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen,” George said of his emotions before the deadline. “It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty and that was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, I thought I would have been in the loop a little more on that.”
Paul George: “I kind of was on the ropes, just like you guys were, on what was about to happen;’ George told reporters in Indianapolis. “It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, thought I would have been in the loop a little more on (trade talks).”
Not too long ago the Pacers were the main threat in the Eastern Conference to LeBron James’ Miami Heat, and Paul George was leading the way. But the roster that found success a few years ago is no more, and the team is on the fringe of the playoff picture instead of at the forefront. That kind of fall from grace can get to you, and George admitted Thursday it has. “[This season] hasn’t been [fun]. We’re trying to work through it,” George told reporters. “It’s been one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve been a part of.”
“Maybe I’m just living in the past of how good we used to be, the personnel, the guys I had around,” George said. “I’m still living in that moment, maybe. I gotta put myself into a different team and maybe I have to do more, maybe that’s just what it is, maybe I have to do more now. But whatever is, I’m going to figure it out.”
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July 20, 2017 | 10:06 pm EDT Update
Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Tuesday that he has plans to give DeMar DeRozan more time at point guard during the 2017-18 season. “We got to have a better mentality of ball movement, man movement and spacing,” Casey said on Wednesday while on The Andrew Walker Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN.
Casey also said that he’s not going to shy away from allowing DeRozan to create in the mid-range in iso situations, knowing it helps him draw fouls. But the focus is clear: the Raptors are looking to create more ball movement. “Everyone and their brother knows we want better ball movement,” said Casey.
Brett Dawson: Lot of questions about Dakari Johnson’s role. He’ll be 15th man. Your 15th man doesn’t play much. Still likely will spend some time w/ Blue. Johnson is an inexpensive guy who has grown a ton as a player, and the Thunder likes him. This is the logical next step for him.
Trail Blazers teammates Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been trying to sell Carmelo Anthony on joining Portland in a potential trade. They see Anthony as a missing piece to a team that was the No. 8 seed in a now-stacked Western Conference. Lillard went as far as to imply that Anthony joining Portland would make the Blazers at Golden State’s level or better.
The Warriors swept the Trail Blazers (easily) in the first round of the NBA playoffs last season. With that in mind, Draymond Green had himself a good laugh upon hearing of Lillard’s comments.
July 20, 2017 | 9:19 pm EDT Update
The Lakers met with free-agent guard Ian Clark for 45 minutes on Thursday afternoon, according to a league source familiar with the situation.The Lakers have expressed interest in Clark in recent weeks for various reasons, but no offer was made.
The Lakers view the 26-year-old Clark as a good mentor for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball after helping the Warriors win the 2017 NBA championship. After only playing four years in the NBA, Clark still could further cement his career with the Lakers should he have a productive season.