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Charity softball game had Nate McMillan thinking Paul George was staying with Pacers

Paul George, Nate McMillan

Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan is one of the leading candidates for the NBA Coach of the Year award. Despite losing star shooting guard Victor Oladipo earlier this season, McMillan has helped guide the Pacers to a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

But how would the roster be different if Paul George was still playing up to MVP form in Indiana? George was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in June 2017, but before George revealed that he definitely wanted out, McMillan and the Pacers thought everything was fine thanks to a charity softball game co-hosted by the star wing.

Via Sam Amick of The Athletic:

“At that softball game, we were fine,” McMillan told The Athletic on Wednesday. “I didn’t know anything about that, and I played in the game with him. So we talked about, leading up to it, about the team and the future and all of that. Just normal conversation between a player and coach. We had good conversations.

“We never had a conversation about him leaving. So when I’m reading, and I’m hearing, that the Lakers are involved or that he wants to go to the Lakers – until I hear that from him. He didn’t talk to me about that.”

For his part, McMillan — heading into his second year as head coach at the time — always wanted players who were committed to the Pacers:

“Again, what I’ve always been preaching, more so than you see now, is having guys I can win with. Wanting to win, it came from the heart and it’s very sincere on wanting to bring that to Indiana. That’s where my heart is going to always be at. …It’s all about bringing a championship to Indiana.”

Ultimately, the Pacers received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in the trade for Paul George, so it is hard to project just how different the organization would be had George stayed.