The Oklahoma City Thunder made yet another blockbuster move that stunned the association. In return, they found themselves the brand new owner of a slightly used, but well oiled and working just fine, Paul George.
The Thunder sent Victor Oladipo and Domas Sabonis to Indiana for George. Indiana turned down draft picks from Boston (the Brooklyn picks!!). So, they did not want any draft picks from Oklahoma City. It appears the Thunder made out like bandits. Sam Presti once again pulled the wool over the eyes of another GM and is smiling the victor, for now.
It is easy to criticize this in the terms of the Thunder’s risk here. They’re renting a superstar for one season, full well knowing his urge to dance in the City of Angels. The urge for George to bolt for Los Angeles is strong but how strong will it be this time next season when George has spent an entire seson playing next to Russell Westbrook?
Sure, you’re renting George for one season but in one swoop, you’ve created cap space and positioned yourself to the future. Gone is Oladipo’s overpaid contract. While Thunder fans were ecstatic about Oladipo when he arrived. He was meant to be the no. 3 option to KD and Westbrook. He was not expected to be a focal point within the offense. He was going to come off the bench, ala James Harden and provide stability for the bench. That was never able to happen. Instead, Oladipo remained inconsistent throughout the season. Oklahoma City then signed him and Steven Adams to hefty extensions, capping out what space the Thunder had left. As the season wore on, Oladipo’s contract grew tiresome on some within as confirmed by Fred Katz.
Oladipo’s exit makes much more sense when you realized he was to fit next to KD and not Westbrook. While the two got along swimmingly. There were little to no reports of any conflicts all season, it was ultimately time for a better fit. Oklahoma City needed a deep threat shooter who can play both sides of the ball, and that’s where Paul George came into play.
George wanted out of Indiana as it’s been reported. He told the Pacers he would not be re-signing and so the great quest of George heading to Oklahoma City began. Many saw him ending in Cleveland or Boston. Hours before the start of the free agency, Boston and Indiana spoke in length about George ending up in Beantown. Boston wanted to sign Gordon Hayward and then deal for George. The Pacers did not want to wait and so they shipped George to Oklahoma City.
With George set to be a free agent, Oklahoma City did what they had to do. There was not going to be any July 1 at 12:01 a.m. meeting with George. There was no money. Presti sees the fit as he’s been pushing to get George for months, and most recently draft night. They’ve paired George next to one of the greatest players in NBA history and given him a true help unlike he’s seen during his tenure with the Pacers.
All of this is risky. Westbrook could choose not to sign the extension and opt for free agency. That would go against a lot of the loyalty he spoke up only 11 months ago. However, Presti has done a lot in the matter of hours. He shed an unwanted contract and created a little cap space. All while remaining competitive in an always evolving league. Trying to remain a contender while Westbrook is in his prime, while trying to remain financialy soluble has worked so far.
Indiana’s love of Sabonis has to be the lynchpin of his whole deal. They wanted young players, not draft picks. When Boston balked on Jaylen Brown and Jason Taytum, the Thunder countered with their two young pups and the Pacers finally bit. It was a waiting game for Presti and it finally paid off. Indiana gets their young player who is going to be really good in Sabonis, and a proven scorer who can hit the three and defend some in Oladipo. Both are signed to contracts for the time being, and the Pacers get their bird rights, so for both teams they feel it is a win-win.
George appears ecstatic on social media with the trade. Could this be one of the missing pieces to a Championship contender? Only time will tell. Vegas appears to love it as the Thunder’s odds have skyrocketed from 80-to-1, to 40-to-1.
George is a superstar finally playing along side a superstar. For Westbrook, he’s seeing Presti trying to improve this team. It’s a no brainer these two can work together and be successful. It’s only a matter of if they want to do in Oklahoma City or Los Angeles.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!