Paul George stresses ‘I’m a Pacer,’ says he shares a similar vision with Kevin Pritchard

Paul George made the flight back to Indianapolis this week to serve as the co-host for the ninth annual Caroline Symmes Celebrity Softball Challenge for the third straight year along with Robert Mathis of the Colts.

As much as the community has embraced PG in his seven years with the Pacers, he has enjoyed giving back to this city and embraces the challenge to compete for the title.

But he knows he’s going to need help.

Reiterating many of the same things he said 11 months ago, George wants to be a Pacer, wants to be part of a competitive team, and wants to experience the joy in winning a title with the fans who have celebrated his success as well as supported him through the lows.

George is under contract with the Pacers through the 2018-19 season, but he holds a player option for the final year that he is expected to decline. He will earn $19.5 million for the 2017-18 season. He’s been the subject of rumors, trade possibilities, and more. You can be sure he reads it, hears it, or that it at least gets back to him.

Before the softball game got underway — his team lost, by the way — George answered questions from a group of reporters in the first base dugout. This was his first time speaking publicly in nearly two months, since their Game 4 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 1 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

[O’Neal and Granger return ‘home’ — Mathis’ team prevails]

By the way — it was noteworthy that Kevin Pritchard, who took over as team president on May 1 after Larry Bird stepped down, attended the softball game and sat in George’s team dugout by third base for the entire time. There to interact and/or there to support … regardless, it was a smart and kind gesture by Pritchard.

Read what he had to say below:

Any talks in the offseason here about the contract? How do you plan to play this thing out?

Man, just let it happen. Just let it happen. That’s all I’m going to do is let it happen.

Is there uncertainty for you right now, in terms of what team you’re going to be with next season?

I’m under contract as a Pacer. That’s all that needs to be really be known. I’m here. I’m a Pacer. Everything else is, again, what I’ve been dealing with. Stories, guys talking, teams talking. I’m a Pacer. There’s no way around that. This is my team, my group, and this is where I’m at.

[Paul George not voted All-NBA, not eligible for Designated Player Extension]

Do you want to stay here?

Of course. Again, what I’ve always been preaching more so than you see now, is having guys that I can win with, and are wanting to win. It came from the heart, I’m very sincere on wanting to bring that to Indiana. That’s where my heart is always going to be at.

Reggie Miller was asked about you and he believes you’re going to be here. How tough of a decision is it for you coming up?

It’ll be tough. It’ll be tough. But again, when I get there, hopefully I will be ready to sit down with my family, be ready to sit down with people close to me to make that decision. Again, I have another year to play out before I can even think about that. So, ya know, we’re going to take this thing slowly. I think the best part of is I’m in the driver’s seat.

Paul, can you talk about all of these crazy stories going around you’ve heard.

Yeah, they’re all crazy. But they’re expected. They’re all expected. I’ve been dealing with this [since] last season still being under contract. It’s going to take a life of its own, I understand that. I’m living in the moment and, again, it’s all about trying to bring a championship to Indiana.

How is your relationship with (Pacers President) Kevin Pritchard and has he assured you whether he’s going to try to get you some help?

Yeah, well we talked. We talked right after he took the job. He came out to see me [in California] and we had a nice dinner. We shared and really had the same outlook on what we wanted out of this, where we want to get to, and what’s going to help us get to that. His mind is in the right place, in terms of the type of players that I want to play with and be around. It’s going to be tough as it will be anywhere to attract players and get players. We’ll see how well we can shape this team up.

Do you get the sense, more so with Kevin than during the regular season, that you are more on the same page or that there is more of a plan that you can agree with versus what happened at the trade deadline?

Well I felt great. Right after him taking the job, his first priority was to come see me. I just like being a part of, again, I know I’m just a player and I love just being in just a player’s position, but at the end of the day I’m the guy that’s out there trying to compete for what this city wants. So I love being a part of what he’s trying to do from day one. We established a great relationship.

[Jimmy Kimmel pushes Lakers numerous times during Paul George’s appearance on his show]

What will be your plan when free agency starts in July? Will you want to be a part of the brass when they’re trying to get more talented players or will you sit back and see how it happens?

Honestly, it will be hard because you want to look at the big picture. At this point in (my career), I’m, as a player, ready to win. You know what I mean? It’ll have to be both sides being on the same page more so than ever, because you don’t want to have guys commit and you don’t know the uncertainty of what you’re going to do, as far as like me being in the situation I am in now. Going into the offseason next year, I’m trying to recruit guys and I don’t know my certainty of where I’m going to be. Myself and KP are really going to have to be on the same page when it comes down to that.

But again, I’m all about trying to make this team better, all about trying to, again, do what Indiana, this city, this state [wants]. I want that ring. I want that gold. I want to get that. I want to accomplish that here. Hopefully we’re all on the same page with that agenda.

Do you want to go into this last year, if there’s no trade, would you want to get something done quickly with the roster?

Absolutely. Again, I’m still I’m not even peaked my prime or even touched the surface. So of course I want an opportunity to compete [for a championship]. I’m not in for going through a season of complacency.


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5 Responses to Paul George stresses ‘I’m a Pacer,’ says he shares a similar vision with Kevin Pritchard
  1. […] in Indianapolis. A reporter asked George straight-up whether he wanted to stay in Indiana or not, according to Vigilant Sports. His […]

  2. […] But that’s not what the Pacers All-Star said a week ago when spotted at the Caroline Symmes Memorial Celebrity Softball Challenge in Indianapolis. A reporter asked George straight-up whether he wanted to stay in Indiana or not, according to Vigilant Sports. His response: […]

  3. […] in Indianapolis. A reporter asked George straight-up whether he wanted to stay in Indiana or not, according to Vigilant Sports. His […]

  4. […] in Indianapolis. A reporter asked George straight-up whether he wanted to stay in Indiana or not, according to Vigilant Sports. His […]

  5. […] his pending decision to leave the franchise (preferably for Los Angeles), he was at a softball game talking about how much he wanted to bring a championship to Indiana. And George was head over heels back in love with L.A. and the Lakers when the Thunder visited (and […]

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