On the same night the Timberwolves agreed to trade away another lottery pick — the highest selection in their history, as a matter of fact — Indiana’s Paul George on Monday delivered against them the kind of performance that shows why he just might be the NBA’s next superstar and why the Pacers are serious title contenders. Beat writer Jerry Zgoda chatted last week with the guy Indiana drafted 10th out of Fresno State in 2010, six slots after the Wolves took Wes Johnson.
Q You worked out for the Wolves in 2010: How much interest did they show?
A Not much. They were already locked in with Wesley. I know they had a lot of picks, but I didn’t think they were looking for more wings. They were set on Wesley.
Q Do you remember that workout?
A Yeah, I remember it very well. I had a good workout there. I think I did impress there, but again, I didn’t know what they were looking for because I knew who they already had locked up.
Q At the time, you weren’t deemed a No. 4 pick. How times change, huh?
A Yeah, I wasn’t, I wasn’t.
Q Wes was 23 then, you were four years younger and the question was how much you’d develop. What were you like then?
A At 19, I felt I was still wanting to learn. Everything was still so fresh and new to me because I had never been in that type of environment. I know Wes had been around that for a while, playing at Syracuse. But I was the kid who always wanted to take on the challenges. Wherever I was going to be, I felt like I would be successful because I always wanted to push myself and challenge myself. That’s just how I’ve always been. I’ve always been motivated.
Q Turns out your ceiling was pretty high, wasn’t it?
A Yeah, it was pretty high and I still feel like I’m nowhere close to it. Eventually, I felt I was going to get to this level — and this is definitely not the level I want to stop at — but I just didn’t know what year it was going to come around because I had Danny [Pacers veteran Danny Granger] and a lot of wings ahead of me. I just didn’t know how things go in the NBA to start off, but I knew eventually I was going to get to this level.
Q You signed a maximum extension here before the season. You didn’t aspire to play in a bigger, glitzier market than Indianapolis?
A Of course everyone does, but you have to look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture here is we’re all young, we did so well last year, we have a core group of guys who are going to be here for a while. There’s no need to go to a big market when I have a market where I can win here.