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Paul George Informing Pacers He Wanted Trade a 'Gut Punch,' Says Kevin Pritchard

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2017

Indiana Pacers' Paul George in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, April 10, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Pacers won 120-111. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard described his disappointment Thursday after learning of Paul George's intention to become a free agent next offseason.

According to ESPN.com's Mike Wells, Pritchard lamented the timing of George's decision:

"It couldn't have come at a worse time. If we would have known this a few months ago, I think we could have been more prepared. Becoming public was a big issue. We want our players to want to be here, that's important. It really is. When Paul said he didn't, that's a gut punch."

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported Sunday that George informed the Pacers he wanted to become a free agent and leave the franchise with the Los Angeles Lakers being his ideal destination.

That has put Indiana in a difficult situation since it can either play out the season and let him leave for nothing or orchestrate a trade that may not allow it to get fair market value in return.

Per Wells, Pritchard said he listened to trade offers leading up to and during the draft, but that he preferred to keep his options open moving forward:

"Multiple things came up [Thursday]. We looked at a lot of things that included draft picks, but at the end of the day there's so much other stuff that doesn't include draft picks that we decided to stay put and look at everything that's on the board in the future. We're not going to make a bad deal. We want to get what we want."

The 27-year-old George is one of the NBA's best two-way players, and he is coming off another strong season for the Pacers.

George averaged a career-high 23.7 points per game to go along with 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals.

The four-time All-Star would be a splashy acquisition for any team, but his status as a potential rental could take away significantly from his trade value.