In the first minutes after reading reports of the Pacers deal sending Paul George to OKC for Victor Oladipo, I was critical on Twitter, “Nothing but good thoughts for @Pacers fans who view the trade with hope and optimism. Wish I shared your rosy outlook.”
And I was right.
After last night’s utter immolation of the Miami Heat by the new-look Pacers, I tweeted “Where are all the tools who thought Kevin Pritchard got schooled in the Paul George deal? @Pacers keep Vic & Domas for years. PG goner in 2018.”
And I was right.
What I wanted the Pacers to get in return for Paul George was an asset with which they might build a championship level roster. Generally, those assets are drafted, not dealt for, so I was disappointed.
Superior players win championships, and neither Victor Oladipo nor Domas Sabonis projected toward that level of player. An unprotected pick that projected into lottery might have brought that kind of talent to Indianapolis.
What the players seem to have gotten was entirely unforeseeable to fans, media, and most league executives – a pair of very complimentary players capable of immediately integrating with a culture like the Pacers and becoming unexpectedly productive.
The Pacers are one of the positive surprises of this still very young NBA season with a 9-8 record and five road wins against the Heat, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, and Cavs. It took the Pacers 36 games to win their fifth road game last season.
My disappointment with the Pacers inability to trade for what might become a foundational piece of a championship puzzle has been replaced by my joy in watching the Pacers win while playing a fun-to-watch style of basketball.
That neither invalidates my immediate disappointment nor my current joy. It just means that expectations change, and the possibility – remote as it might be – the Pacers might be able to excite a trade partner into swapping a future pick that might become the next Michael Jordan has been replaced by a nice month of watching fun basketball.
My mistake was in calling those who didn’t like the trade “tools.” We aren’t tools. We’re just people who were briefly tantalized by the prospect of the Pacers embarking on a journey that might have led them to greener pastures in four years.
Pritchard made the safe play as best he could, and I’m glad he did. While both Oladipo and Sabonis are unlikely to become the struts of a championship team, they are pretty damn good, and they will continue to be through the 2020-2021.
That’s a pretty damn good haul for a one-year rental headed for LA come July.
It’s just hard to explain all that in 140 characters.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.