Paul George’s full comments on the Pacers’ inconsistent 2016-17 season

Paul George led the team with 28 points per game in the season. [Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Paul George helped ensure the Pacers qualified for postseason play yet again. His goal after being drafted 10th overall in 2010 was for the Pacers to never be in the lottery again. Other than the 2014-15 season, when he was limited to six games due to that serious compound leg fracture, they have not.

Lance Stephenson sparked five straight wins to end the season, but George put them in that position in the first place.

Over the four-game series to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the reigning NBA Champions, George averaged 28 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game while playing almost 43 minutes per game and guarding LeBron James for much of the time.

Read George’s full comments below, which came following their season-ending Game 4 loss: 106-102. Admittedly worn down in Game 4, George shot poorly (5-for-21) but finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

You were held to 15 points tonight. What were they doing to cause you from getting into a rhythm?

Rough night. That’s all it is. Just a rough night, nothing I haven’t dealt with this whole series in terms of double teams and traps. Just a slow night for me to get a rhythm.

How frustrating and difficult was this season?

[This season] was very frustrating. But, I guess every year isn’t a golden year. It’s going to be some ups and downs in your career and I’ve learned that, not every year is going to be special.

It was good to learn. This year I was able to take everything in and just try to go try to learn from it, find out ways to remain positive and just try to make the most of it.

Do you want to stay in Indiana and how will you proceed at this point?

I ain’t even at that point yet. Next question.

How frustrating is it to keep running into LeBron in the playoffs?

Yeah, it’s real frustrating to continue on losing to the same team or the same person. It’s real frustrating. It’s what I work hard for in the summers, to try to help lead a team on my own and ultimately it’s who I’m going to always have to see and face. But again, came up short. Didn’t do enough.

How do you evaluate the progress of this season?

I thought for the whole year, we had a new core, a new team, I was with new teammates. And all year we’ve been saying it – trying to find chemistry, and trying to find what works, what’s not working. Trying to learn, trying to build chemistry, trying to just take it one step at a time.

It just sucks for us (that) everything was happening fast and we were never able to quite catch on until really late in the season. But, it’s difficult dealing with new styles, new teammates, new coach. You got to learn how to figure out that fast and for us, we had trouble with it.

Is this a situation where those many losses to bottom teams cost you in the end, in having to match up against LeBron so early?

We can’t look at it like that. Eventually we was going to have to face him (LeBron). Even if our seeding was a little higher and we had a different matchup, we was going to have to face this team regardless. If we want to win, that’s the team that we have to work towards stacking up against. At some point, if we want to be serious, that’s a team that we got to look at and figure how can we match up against them.

You’ve said that you need to see that the franchise is headed in the right direction. What do you need to see or be told this offseason?

Again, I’ll wait for that time. I’ll wait for that time. That exit meeting is tomorrow and I’ll wait for that time.

With all the speculation surrounding your future, how difficult was it to stay focused on this moment and not get caught up on what was said about you?

Well that was the easy part. Again, I don’t really feed into media or let it effect me. I’ve been really good at focusing on what I need to focus on. That stuff I don’t have control over. Everybody has a voice, everybody has an opinion and I can’t change that. The only thing I can really focus on or have control of is what I do and what I can have an impact on. Everything else I have no control over so it didn’t really weigh on me.

Is there something in particular that you think you could’ve done this season to rally the guys?

Of course. At the end of the day it relies and falls on me. I can always do things better.

But again, it’s the first time really being in this position. Year’s past, even last year, George [Hill] and Ian [Mahinmi]  — those guys took a lot of load off me as far as rallying the team and keeping guys together and being a voice in the locker room. And those guys win. They are winning players, been in winning program. For me, I got veterans and stuff like that but those guys were those guys that had been in that position.

So this year it was kind of hard trying to figure that out, how to keep everybody together and stay positive.

Is it your sense that the team is closer to something that the world thinks after watching a sweep or is there still a gap that needs to be closed?

It’s tough. I hate to look back on the past but you take a year like last year with that group, we got eliminated in the first round but we felt like if you add a couple pieces to that group and we had something. But every year is different. You got to go as they come. I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ll see what moves the team makes and how it stacks up going forward.

Have your leadership skills improved as the season has gone on and what more do you need to do?

I think just remaining talkative. I think that’s the biggest step I can improve on and the biggest step I can take. It’s just remaining talkative. I’m aware that that helps a lot of guys, as much as you can talk and communicate. Not everybody is programed the same or is built the same. I think that will help going forward and something I can take away from this season.

What did you see on your final shot and how pleased were you with the opportunity?

I was pleased with that opportunity. I saw a wide-open shot, I got the ball back after those turnovers on both sides. I got the ball back and everybody scrambled away and I had a good look. I had an open look, may have rushed it, should’ve taken my time in that moment. Definitely one I wish I could have back.

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