INDIANAPOLIS -- As he returns to Indianapolis to play in the arena he called home for his first seven NBA seasons, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George said Wednesday that he has regrets about how things ended with the Pacers. But he also has closure.
"I think both sides -- myself and the front office -- would definitely like to have handled things better," George said. "I for sure will take ownership on that. But I have no regrets on the outcome."
George declined to say specifically what those regrets are. "I know what I would've changed," he said, "but I'll keep that to myself."
Following last season, George's agent met with the Pacers' front office to inform them that he would not re-sign as an unrestricted free agent next summer. That set off the necessity for the Pacers to trade him. Indiana ultimately sent George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Back in Indiana, where he played in college, Oladipo has flourished, averaging a career-high 24.5 points per game. He is coming off a career-best 47-point game as the Pacers sit a surprising 16-11 heading into Wednesday's game against the Thunder, who are 12-14 (7 p.m. ET on ESPN).
"It's more so of Indiana doing well -- where they're at now, that was closure for me," George said. "At the end of the day, when we reached out to the front office to tell them our plans, our future plans, it was to help them along the way, and it was bad at first, so to speak, that they thought with this trade it wasn't gonna pan out. But it obviously did.
"They got two great young pieces, so that was good for me to see that this franchise changed the locker room and [is] going in the right direction."
With him slotting into the go-to role that was held down by George for so many seasons, Oladipo said recently that he's "sick and tired" of comparisons between the two. George echoed those sentiments Wednesday.
"Vic has been phenomenal here, and I would love to piggyback on what Vic said in terms of being compared to me," George said. "I don't think you guys, or Indiana in general, is giving him the respect. I'm done. I'm over with. I moved on, and it's Vic time. And he's doing great here.
"It's not right. Vic has worked extremely hard on his game. He's worked extremely hard to get to the point where he's at. He was great coming into this league, and he's only been mentored by great people, playing with Russ [Westbrook, while with OKC]. Now this is his opportunity to lead a team, and he's being compared to somebody he was traded for. This is his team. Let him lead and let him start this era on good terms. From what it sounds like, you guys are annoying him with the comparisons early. Let him live. Let this be his city."
George said he expects to be booed by Pacers fans, because as he noted Tuesday, "There are more Pacer fans than Paul George fans." But he said he won't be bothered by it.
"I might be nervous off the court, being booed," George said. "But being on the court, it's my comfort zone. It's basketball. It's what I do. I'm not losing sleep over it. I'm living my dream, getting to play in the NBA, getting to play basketball.
"[If] I get booed, I get booed. It's part of the game. It'll make for a good show, and I'm looking forward to it. On ESPN."