Woj: Gilbert’s comment was not directed at Oladipo

The words Victor Oladipo of the Pacers said “added fuel to the fire” of his stellar Game 1 performance against the Cavaliers on Sunday were accurate, but the context apparently was not.

Last July 26, after Indiana sent All-Star forward Paul George to Oklahoma City in exchange for Oladipo and Damantas Sabonis, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said Indiana “could’ve done better than it did” in the deal.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweeted late Sunday night that Gilbert’s words last July were not directed at Oladipo, specifically, and that the Cavaliers owner actually wanted to take the former Indiana University star with the first pick in the 2013 draft.

In the tweet, Wojnarowski said the Cavaliers and Pacers “largely agreed” on a three-way trade that would have sent Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and Cleveland’s 2018 first-round draft pick to the Pacers and George to the Cavaliers. Though it was not part of the tweet, reports were Cleveland would have sent Kevin Love to Denver to complete the three-team trade.

Wojnarowski reported the potential deal reached the point where Gilbert and George were about to talk, apparently about George possibly agreeing to sign a long-term deal with the Cavaliers if the trade went down.

However, before that could happen, Indiana opted to take the deal from Oklahoma City that landed Oladipo and Sabonis.

In his tweet, Wojnarowski said Gilbert’s comments “seemed to be on Indy bailing on (the) deal, not Oladipo.”

He also said Gilbert wanted to take Oladipo with the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, “but deferred to (the) front office on A. Bennett,” referring to Anthony Bennett, whom then-Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant selected. Bennett is no longer in the league, having last appeared while playing 23 games for Brooklyn in 2016-17. He was in training camp with Phoenix but was waived Oct. 11. Bennett played 35 games (32 starts) for the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s G League affiliate, averaging 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8b assists in 26.9 minutes per game.

When reporters asked Oladipo if he knew of Gilbert’s comment from July 26, he said he was “aware of it.”

“You could say it added fuel to the fire, I guess you could say,” he said. “But that was so long ago. It came up recently, obviously, because we were playing the Cavs in the series, but 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.”