I'll take you back to 2017. Paul George was a big fish that was about to hit the market. Everyone knew that his first option was to go back home and join the Los Angeles Lakers. What ended up happening left everybody surprised.
George got traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as the Indiana Pacers received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in return. Looking back on it, it ended up being a great deal for Indiana, as the two are now cornerstones of the franchise. Sabonis has just made his first All-Star team and is having a career year, averaging 18.5/12.4/5. Before breaking his leg, Oladipo was also coming off a career year and was establishing himself as the next NBA star. We'll see how he responds once he gets back into the rhythm again. Hopefully, he'll be able to get back to the level he was on before he went down with an injury.
Let's get back to Paul George. It turns out George's intentions weren't to force his way out of the team that drafted him. Not until one decisive moment, at least. It all went south when the team had a chance to acquire a special talent to play along with PG, but decided not to do it. It was the last straw that got George out of there.
"I ain't gon' say the names because I'm going to keep their business private, I 'ma just say it like this. I had at the time, the best power forward saying he wanted to come to Indy and team up with me. They’re like, ‘we’re a mid-major, we’re a small market, like, we can’t do it, we’re a small market, we can’t afford that.’ I’m like the best power forward wants to come to play here, like, y’all can’t make that work? They didn’t want to do it. I called my agent like, 'Man, get me up outta here. They don’t want to win.“
Paul George, via The Players Tribune
Wow! Quite a thing to hear from George. Could you imagine how the NBA landscape would've been different if the Pacers actually went for it? In terms of the guy who was willing to join the Pacers, it turns out it was none other than Anthony Davis.
AD at the time was going into his sixth year with the Pelicans. Frustrations were piling up, as he was having a hard time dealing with the lack of any post-season success. He was ready for a change, and George's words had made some sort of verbal commitment to him. But the Pacers weren't up for it.
Instead, they offered George an alternative, pursuing a "top 25 power forward" who was also ready to play for Indiana. But he wasn't buying it. Losing out on AD was something he just couldn't get over.
So yeah, AD and PG playing together in Indiana was a very realistic option at the time. At least that's what George is saying. However, the Pacers passed on the deal. Instead, they were forced to trade their young star and start all-over. It turned out great for them, but can you imagine Davis and George on the same team? It sure would've been a special duo.