Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported Thursday that Atlanta was one of a number of teams that made an offer for George before February's trade deadline, offering a head-turning four first-rounders.
George could have helped Atlanta climb from the middle rungs of the Eastern Conference playoff picture into contention territory alongside the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. The Hawks finished with the No. 5 seed at 43-39, but George's 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game as an elite two-way player would likely have bolstered their standing.
It makes sense on the surface for Indiana to pass on trade offers for George. After all, he is just 27 years old and the face of the only NBA franchise he's ever known.
However, he has a player option to become a free agent in 2018, and Windhorst pointed out his failure to make an All-NBA team this season hurt Indiana's bargaining power. Had George made an All-NBA team, he would have qualified for the designated player extension.
That "would've allowed the Pacers to offer George the richest contract in NBA history—and add up to five years and approximately $210 million to his contract," Windhorst wrote.
There is now a chance George could go to a team such as the Los Angeles Lakers (he is a Southern California native) or someone else as soon as 2018, especially if the Pacers don't quickly build a contender around him.
If that comes to fruition, the Pacers could rue missing out on Atlanta's four first-round picks.