"There’s no right way to handle it," George said. "I get the frustration. I get why people are upset. But at the same time, I want the average fan to understand that we only get a small window to play this game and more than anything you want to be able to play for a championship. I wanted to bring that to Indiana. I really did. I love Indiana. That will always be a special place for me and I’m sorry for not holding on. But I wasn’t sure we’d ever get a team together to compete for a championship and that’s where all this came from."
George said he felt a shift in the team's plans, and in himself. Three years ago, George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert and George were part of a core that made the Eastern Conference Finals. All other players have left the team.
"Here I am, the last guy, and I kind of felt a rebuild coming," George said. "I felt like the window had closed. I thought they were going in a different direction and I wanted to go in a different direction."
He told the Pacers he would not re-sign after his contract was up following the 2017-18 season. Many believed he would go to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent -- his interest in the team is no secret.
“I idolized Kobe," George said. "There will always be a tie here, a connection here. People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city."
But, the now-Oklahoma City Thunder player said, his interest in L.A. has been "overstated."
"For me, it’s all about winning," he said. "I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I’ve yet to do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”