Paul George
Celeste Ballou - Pacers.com

George Hesitant but Open-Minded About Position Change

PG, Teammates Excited About New Roster Additions
by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Paul George doesn't believe this is the appropriate point in his career to make a position change, but he's willing to give it a trial run.

George, speaking with media at the Pacers Foundation golf outing at Brickyard Crossing on Thursday, expressed reservations about playing power forward in the upcoming season, after establishing himself as an All-Star as a swingman between shooting guard and small forward over the past five seasons.

The idea of banging with bulkier players doesn't excite him, particularly coming off last summer's broken leg that kept him out of all but six games last season, but he also recognizes the advantages that could come with being guarded by slower players.

"It's not what I came in the league as," George said. "I don't think I'm at that point of my career where I should be changing position. Guys do that later in their career when they put on weight or lack physical attributes as far as being quick – I'm still all of that. I don't feel the need to play a different position. Especially come back to a new season, starting fresh again. It's a change. We'll see how it goes."

Team president Larry Bird said earlier in the summer that George would be given a shot at power forward as part of the Pacers' transition to a smaller and faster style of play. George had already expressed doubts about it at that point, which prompted Bird, in his typical sarcastic manner, to remark, "He don't make the decisions around here."

Bird said he had made from small forward to power forward late in his playing career and enjoyed not having to chase quicker players on the perimeter.

"I think Larry was 40 when he made that change," George said, smiling. "It was a little later in his career. He was definitely able to outsmart those guys at that position. I'm not going to sit here and shoot it down. I do see the positives in playing a smaller lineup and having the ability to take advantage of somebody who can't stay in front of me, so I'm not going to knock as if it's a terrible decision. I see the positives."

Pacers coach Frank Vogel had indicated recently he opens training camp next Tuesday with the idea that George will be the starting power forward, a point he reiterated earlier on Tuesday.

That took George somewhat by surprise, who thought it was going to be just an occasional thing. George said he'll keep an open mind but hopes he has a strong voice in the final decision.

"I hope my happiness comes first in this whole ordeal," he said. "Again, I'm not someone who's not going to...kill a locker room. I 'm open to it. I just want to see how it goes."

Vogel supported George's claim that he's 100 percent healthy and has 90 percent of his timing back, and plans to put no restrictions on his participation.

George has been working out in Los Angeles and, for the past couple of weeks, in Indianapolis.

"I feel great," he said. "My body feels amazing. Ready to start this year."

Regardless of where he plays, George is optimistic about the offseason roster changes. Bird has brought in seven new players and another, Toney Douglas, with a partial contract guarantee, tilting the emphasis toward quickness and scoring.

In other words, they'll play like many Western Conference teams.

"I think we are capable of changing the East," George said. "We have a lot of scorers. Great playmakers. Great ballhandlers. Our whole makeup as changed. If we have success at playing the small ball game, we can change the whole East."

Budinger Impresses

George singled out forward Chase Budinger for praise, based on what he's seen this summer. Budinger, acquired in an offseason trade for Damjan Rudez, has fully recovered from the knee injury that limited him the past two seasons.

"I think Chase Budinger is going to be a big, big, big piece for us," George said. "A lot of people aren't familiar with what he can do. He's been very surprising. I've been working with him in L.A. this summer, so I know what he's capable of. He's been looking great playing pickup ball this summer."

Budinger said on Tuesday he feels 95-100 percent.

"The thing I notice now is how easy it is to dunk again," he said. "The past couple of years it took me extra time and power to get up. Now it's easy. Just a little quick jump. Just having that back with no soreness, it feels great."

Budinger missed 59 games in 2012-13 with a lateral tear in his meniscus, suffered in a game at Chicago, and then 41 the following season after a second procedure. He played in 67 games last season, and finished strong as the knee gradually recovered.

Over the final 17 games in which he played, he averaged 14.4 points while shooting .497 from the field, .415 from the 3-point line and .870 from the foul line.

Mahinmi Gets First Shot at Center

Vogel said Ian Mahinmi, who had backed up Roy Hibbert the past three seasons, has bulked up in anticipation of becoming the starting center, and will get the first shot at the role.

"I think on paper you want to look at Ian Mahinmi with what he's able to do at the defensive end, running the floor and blocking shots," Vogel said. "He's a proven great defensive center. I'd say (he's most likely) to start, but we'll see."

Vogel said C.J. Miles has "worked harder than anybody this summer," and added George Hill continued the diligent offseason approach he established last year.

Some of the players passed out praise as well. Talk to enough of them, and virtually everybody gets a mention.

Budinger said Lavoy Allen – who has dropped weight – amazed him with his strength, and has been impressed with rookie center Myles Turner's shooting.

"He's got that turnaround jumper in the post, which is very impressive," he said. "All the rookies have impressed me. They still have to learn the NBA game, but there's a lot of good young talent."

Allen threw out a few compliments as well.

"I like Myles. Rakeem (Christmas, another rookie center) blocks everything. Glenn (Robinson III) dunks everything," he said. "He's crazy athletic. Toney (Douglas) looks real good. He's probably been the most consistent out of all the guys the last couple of weeks."

C.J. Miles, who likely had the most productive offseason, immediately mentioned Turner when asked who has impressed the most in recent workouts.

"I knew he could shoot the basketball, but I didn't know he shot the basketball like he does," Miles said. "He shoots the basketball extremely well for his size. He's got some post moves down there, and he shoots the three really well.

"Shayne (Whittington) has been good this summer. He's been here just as much as me. Joe (Young, the second-round draft pick) as of late is starting to slow down in the pickup games and is starting to see things really well. Bringing in Toney Douglas definitely helps that because he's harassing him every day."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

Chris Denari Hosts Q&A Session With Pacers Newcomers

September 24, 2015 - At the Pacers Foundation Charity Golf Outing, Chris Denari hosted a Q&A with four of the newest members of the Pacers: Chase Budinger, Monta Ellis, Toney Douglas, and Jordan Hill. The players shared their thoughts about when they found out they would be becoming members of the Pacers, and why they feel Indiana is a great fit for them.

2015 Golf Outing

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

Chris Denari Hosts Q&A Session With Pacers Newcomers

September 24, 2015 - At the Pacers Foundation Charity Golf Outing, Chris Denari hosted a Q&A with four of the newest members of the Pacers: Chase Budinger, Monta Ellis, Toney Douglas, and Jordan Hill. The players shared their thoughts about when they found out they would be becoming members of the Pacers, and why they feel Indiana is a great fit for them.
Sep 24, 2015  |  05:54

Shayne Whittington Hits the Links

September 25, 2015 - Pacers center Shayne Whittington took to the golf course on Thursday for the Pacers Foundation Golf Outing.
Sep 25, 2015  |  02:56

Related Content

NEXT UP:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter