Pacers: We all need to be on the same page about Paul George


The Indiana Pacers lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 110-105 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the preseason opener, and Pacers star Paul George had a lot to say about it.

When the Pacers took the court on Saturday night, one major change was set to take place, and even though it’s something that had been covered a lot many were still anticipating Paul George’s move to the Power Forward spot. His first test? Anthony Davis. Welcome to the new Indiana Pacers.

-=Related: An Homage to former Pacers PF David West=-

In the 24 minutes Paul George played, he was responsible for both Davis and Ryan Anderson on the defensive end of the floor – something that proved difficult, and it was clear in the opening minutes as Davis asserted himself physically time after time down the court. To be fair, Davis would have done that to whoever he was matched up against because Anthony Davis is a certified monster of a man whose arms might be as long as his legs, but still – George struggled.

The defense was tough. Offense? Not so much, and George shined.

Any rust that was there before preseason began seemed to be shaken off as George went 7-for-15 from the field, with three 3’s and a *nasty* two-handed slam after breaking by Davis. He looked fantastic, and the new offense was as intriguing as expected.

During the post-game press conference, though, Paul George wasn’t singing praises. No, instead, he was trying to find the best way to tell the media that he still “wasn’t thrilled.”

He emphasized to those in attendance that he was “definitely more comfortable” playing small forward, also saying that “a couple of guys are uncomfortable with how we’re going to run it.” Today, George spoke again to the media after meeting with Bird & Vogel but had a little different tune.

He spoke about receiving “clarification” on his role at the 4 spot but also said, “we know where we’re at, within our locker room.”

So, here’s the thing:

We all need to be on the same page about Paul George. And when I say we, I mean Pacers president Larry Bird, head coach Frank Vogel, and of course, the man himself.

Larry Bird knows his stuff – he’s the reason Paul George is a part of this organization – but his comments aren’t exactly pleasing to the eye when speaking bluntly about George and his spot. Bird has been more vocal than usual on players in the Pacers organization, specifically Roy Hibbert and now Paul George. One of the reasons David West cited when he left was how he felt the “organization” was treating players, specifically Bird on Hibbert. Recently, Bird has said things like about how he doesn’t care if Paul doesn’t want to play at the PF position. Not exactly a ringing endorsement on Indiana’s franchise player.

Frank Vogel, too, knows his stuff. Right now, on the outside it looks as if Vogel is perfectly content watching Bird and George hash it out while standing on the sidelines, which is also troubling. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but from someone outside of the picture that’s what it looks like. Vogel has always been extremely supportive of both George and Bird and probably doesn’t want to be caught in the middle, but this is his team, his star, and he needs to be there for him.

Oct 3, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) shoots the ball while New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) defends in the second half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pelicans beat the Pacers, 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As for Paul George, as difficult as this is, he needs to stick with the plan for as long as he can. It was refreshing for him to come out and specify that he is 100% not against this organization, or his teammates, but that he was “just giving [his] opinion.” That’s great, and I understand his frustrations even if I can’t sympathize, but the harmony within the organization doesn’t exactly seem to be on point.

Of course, all this could be absolutely nothing. For all we know, things will pan out and the season will go as smoothly as it can for starting three guards and a small forward with a center. After all, a lot has been made of this situation based on three press conferences between two excellent basketball minds. Or, this could be the start of something, and something not great. For now it seems as if PG understands his place and is climbing aboard the “small ball” train – but regardless of what goes on in the rest of the preseason and into the year, we all need to get and stay on the same page about Paul George, and soon.

Next: Pacers open preseason play tonight against the Pelicans

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