Gilbert thought the Pacers “could have done better” than Oladipo. So Olapido roasted him…on the court.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said the Indiana Pacers “could have done better” when it came to trading away Paul George in 2017. Now one of the key assets in that trade is responding — and he’s backed Cleveland into an 0-1 corner in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
Pacers’ guard Victor Oladipo said Gilbert’s comments “added fuel to the fire” when he dropped a game-high 32 points on the Cavs to send the Eastern Conference’s four seed to a surprising 98-80 upset loss. The performance more than doubled Oladipo’s career high in the postseason.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said Pacers “could have done better” in Paul George trade.
Victor Oladipo, after 32P/ 6R/4A in Game 1 win, on Gilbert’s words: “You could say he added fuel to the fire.” pic.twitter.com/6v5J36hLuE
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 15, 2018
“I already had fuel,” Oladipo told reporters after his victory Sunday. “You could say it added fuel to the fire. … That was so long ago. It came up recently obviously because we’re playing the Cavs in the series. I’m aware of what he said. Can’t control his opinion. All I’m focused on is myself and becoming the best Victor Oladipo possible.”
It’s the latest development in a breakthrough season for the young star. Oladipo was the No. 2 pick of an underwhelming 2013 Draft class and was able to make an immediate impact as a starter with the Orlando Magic. He developed into a high energy defender but was seen more as a complimentary piece than a star, especially after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 where he played second fiddle to Russell Westbrook.
But the Pacers saw the potential he possessed. Indiana was forced with the unfortunate reality of losing homegrown star George in free agency and jumped at the chance to get any kind of return for the All-NBA forward. Several teams made overtures — including Dan Gilbert’s Cavaliers — but general manager Kevin Pritchard settled on a package built around Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from the Thunder.
It’s a move that paid off handsomely. Oladipo has excelled as the Pacers’ top option, exploding for a career-high 23.1 points per game and turning a potential rebuilding year in Indianapolis into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Sabonis nearly doubled his scoring output in his second season as a pro to provide a vital sixth man presence for the club.
It seemed like an underwhelming return for a bonafide superstar at the time. Gilbert wasn’t alone in panning last year’s trade. Even here at SB Nation, Tim Cato’s headline reaction was to call the deal “just sad.”
But none of those critics have NBA teams facing the Pacers in the first round of this year’s NBA Playoffs. Gilbert’s comments were tame compared to some of the venom spewed toward the Pacers, but Indiana got the last laugh when the centerpiece of that deal sprang for 32 points and put last year’s Eastern Conference champions in an 0-1 hole to start the playoffs. Oladipo showed the Cavaliers first hand just what good value the Pacers got in the Paul George trade firsthand Sunday night.