When Paul George‘s rep informed the Pacers that his client was ready to move on, GM Kevin Pritchard said the news felt like a “gut punch.”

Pritchard says he thought George wanted to build a winning team in Indiana.

The Pacers are confident they’ll be able to make a good trade for the All-Star, but don’t want to be rushed.

Per the Indy Star:

“For me it was gut punch,” Pritchard said. “It was a total gut punch because we had many conversations over the summer about players that we’d like to add, a little bit of a style we’d like to play. In my opinion, I was very inclusive with (George) and the message over the summer up until this weekend was, ‘Let’s build a winning team.’ When that came in that he wanted to look at another place, it was gut punch for us.”

 

The timing of the conversation with (Aaron) Mintz, Pritchard said, couldn’t have come at a worse time with the Pacers in the midst of what will likely be one of the most turbulent offseasons in the franchise’s history. Similar to fans, Pritchard also said he, too, felt upset and disappointed with George’s sudden change in believing that the Pacers could be competitive in the future.

 

What Pritchard said he struggled with the most was how his conversation with Mintz was revealed to the public in a news report Sunday afternoon. The report, from Yahoo’s The Vertical, also included that George intends to join the Lakers, his hometown team, when he becomes a free agent — a revelation that lowered George’s trade value.

 

“Becoming public was a big issue,” Pritchard said. “The conversation with his agent was very challenging.”