The Indiana Pacers have had an inconsistent season which is the reason for their 29-28 record. Forward Paul George has been vocal about the team’s issues throughout the year, and the franchise should be concerned about that.
The NBA is a stars’ league, and the Pacers should feel fortunate to have one in Paul George. However, having a star becomes a burden if the franchise cannot win with him.
George is averaging a career-high 22.3 points per game and shooting 44.6% from the field and a career-best 91.4% from the free throw line. On top of that, he averages 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He is having another All-star year.
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The only problem is his play is not resulting in the team success he would like to see. For a guy who played in back-to-back eastern conference finals, a 29-28 record is not good enough.
There is a long list of issues that have plagued the Pacers this season like their lackluster defense, their rough team chemistry.
Even with all of those problems, it is more concerning that George voicing his frustration with the problems publicly.
For example, here is George’s take on the locker room following the team’s 111-98 loss to the Washington Wizards Thursday:
Those are not the kind of comments an organization wants to hear from its star player because it tells the Pacers he is unhappy and unsatisfied.
George cannot become a free agent until 2018 if he chooses to decline his player option. While that is a year and a half away, the Pacers should be concerned. George is entering the prime of his career, if he is not there already. Yet, he still has no NBA titles or appearances to show for it.
Also, this season looks like it is quickly going nowhere unless the Pacers magically turn things around after the All-Star break. With all of these factors in mind, George has quickly become non-committal about his future with the Pacers after 2019.
"“As I told Larry (Bird, the Pacers’ president), I always want to play on a winning team. I want to be a part of a team that has a chance to win (it all). That’s important. Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.”"
For the record. George also added that winning a championship for the Pacers is he wants to “achieve.” However, everyone, including the Pacers, needs to focus on the larger quote.
For those thinking George would never leave Indiana, listen to what he is telling people. He wants to win and has verbally suggested throughout this season that the Pacers are not close to doing that.
The Oklahoma City Thunder did not think Kevin Durant would leave them. Look what happened in that situation? This same scenario could play out for the Pacers in 2018 unless they can give George a legitimate reason to stay.
The remainder of this season will more than likely have an influence on George’s potential free agency in 2018. The Pacers’ organization has plenty of work to do to turn this roster into a title contender.
If they cannot build a roster good enough to persuade George to stay, they better have a backup plan because he will leave them in search of a NBA Championship.