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After ‘Difficult’ Decision to Trade Paul George, Pacers Start Rebuilding

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Paul George with the Indiana Pacers in April. George has played his entire seven-year career with the Pacers.

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John Raoux/Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Pritchard struggled to make the deal.

Pritchard, the Indiana Pacers’ general manager, figured that dealing Paul George was ultimately the best way to protect his team.

On Thursday, Pritchard finally made the blockbuster trade official by announcing that George, a four-time All-Star, was heading to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

“It was difficult both on a personal and professional level,” Pritchard said in a statement issued by the team. “Everyone here knows what Paul meant to this franchise; he was both a tremendous human being as well as player here for seven years. We thank Paul and his family for their contributions to the Pacers and wish him well.”

George essentially forced the move when word leaked that he intended to leave the team as a free agent next summer just before the N.B.A. draft.

That disclosure put the Pacers in a bind: Build around George for one final run at…

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