Paul George said the Pacers’ success has given him closure and made him feel better about how he handled his exit by informing the front office of his desire to play elsewhere and giving Indiana the chance to get something of value in return. He didn’t give them a half-hearted eighth season and leave them empty handed. But the timing of his decision still has some Pacers fans salty, because George waited until days before the NBA draft and gave “gut-punched” team president Kevin Pritchard little time to find a package that could’ve given the franchise the picks and prospects that All-Stars usually yield in deals. Pritchard is finally starting to get recognition for swinging a quality deal under the circumstances, especially with Oladipo playing as if an All-Star appearance and NBA Most Improved Player award are within his grasp. “[Victor Oladipo] is the face of Indiana. Vic is the future of Indiana. I’m along with Indiana on this Victor wave,” George said. “Let’s put all this to rest for what it is. I had an amazing seven years here. I was blessed to play in front of a great Indiana fan base, which as you saw tonight, they showed up and showed out. I’m grateful. I’m grateful to play in this organization. But ultimately I didn’t achieve what I wanted to do here and I moved on. Both sides moved on, and let’s all move on.”
James Harden on hearing MVP chants: “It’s a great feeling. Just to be in that conversation, just to be playing at that level every year is something I need to be doing. I’ve worked my butt off for it and just continue to do it, just continue to compete, continue to learn and just be better, be the best player I can be every single night.”
Spurs great David Robinson was in New York this week to help accept the George M. Steinbrenner III Sport Leadership Award on behalf of the 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. Fellow Hall of Famers’ Clyde Drexler and Lenny Wilkens, who was one of the team’s assistant coaches, accompanied Robinson to the United States Olympic Endowment’s annual luncheon.
Tim MacMahon: James Harden was asked if he’s looking to win MVP. “I’m looking to win the championship this year. That’s all of our goal. It’s a buildup. Every day is a grind. There’s going to be some ups and some downs, but as long as we’ve got our eyes on the bigger prize, we’ll be all good.”