Although the Indiana Pacers (48-34) and the Portland Trail Blazers (49-33) finished with similar records and were both knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, there is a lot more optimism around the Pacers than there is around the Blazers right now. Those good feelings go all the way to the top:
Trust me - words cannot express my gratitude for this team. Has been a joy to watch them grow together. So many amazing moments both on and off the court. So proud to be a Pacer.— Kevin Pritchard (@PacersKev) April 29, 2018
Kevin Pritchard, current Pacers General Manager and former Blazers GM has a lot to celebrate these days.
In spite of losing in seven games to the LeBron-led Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs, the future looks bright in Indy. Just 10 months ago, even making the playoffs seemed to be a pipe-dream. When superstar Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, the consensus at the time was that Indiana got fleeced. There were even whispers that Pritchard refused to consider engaging the Allen-owned Blazers on an trade that allegedly offered all three 2017 Portland first round picks and a player of Pritchard’s choice - outside of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic.
However, a breakout season from Oladipo and improvement from Sabonis — coupled with improved play up and down the roster — have changed opinions in a hurry. With the Thunder flaming out in the first round and doubts about whether George will even stick around in Oklahoma City after this year, the current feeling is that Indiana won the trade -and improved the team’s future outlook - handily.
Pritchard was GM of the Blazers from December 2008 to June 2010 when he was fired on draft night by team owner Paul Allen.