Boston. Los Angeles. Cleveland. There were a lot of places that Paul George was supposed to end up. But not the one place he did – Oklahoma City.
Nobody saw that coming. Not even Thunder players. Take Josh Huestis “I was in my hotel room, and I got a text [from rookie Domantas (DA-MONTAS) Sabonis] that told me it happened. Literally nobody had any idea that was even on the table or an option.”
Just to be clear – Huestis found out because one of the guys who was in the trade texted him about the trade. That’s because Thunder GM Sam Presti is a ninja. He works, he waits, and then he makes his move.
And now he pairs Paul George and Russell Westbrook for a year. I don’t know what that will look like, but I know I want to see it. You’ve turned a one-man team into a two-man team, given your team a chance to make some noise and reach the conference finals, and sent the message to Westbrook that you will do what it takes to win, which is key when he’ll be a free agent next summer. And maybe George has enough chemistry with Westbrook and enough fun in OKC that he decides not to leave for the Lakers next summer. And maybe he doesn’t, but at least you gave yourself a shot. You put yourself in the game and didn’t just roll over and die.
But as good as Presti is, as much of a magician-ninja hybrid as he is, he still probably had to give up a ton to get Paul George, right? Wrong. He had to give up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Huh? What else? Is that it? I keep waiting for that trade to get bigger, the way the Chris Paul trade kept adding on players, but it hasn’t. There aren’t any more pieces. That’s it.
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard traded away Paul George and received two guys who are younger and who also play the sport of basketball. That’s about it. That’s the best I can say about that deal for the Pacers.
Sabonis is a nice player with potential. Oladipo is a nice player with a big contract that Presti was probably happy to get rid of. So there’s next to no risk for Presti. Even if Paul George bounces for the Lakers after one year, the Thunder have more flexibility because they got rid of Oladipo’s contract. Win-win.
For all of Pritchard’s talk about how Paul’s intentions to leave were a “gut punch,” it seems like the Pacers managed to kick themselves in the junk. I know it was a tough market for a guy who’d already said he wants to go to LA, but you literally couldn’t get anything more than that? You couldn’t do better than Oladipo and Sabonis?
What about the rumors involving Kevin Love or assets from Boston? Or maybe putting enough pressure on the Lakers to get something from them? And those reports that the Blazers were willing to give up their three first round picks plus anyone other than their big three make things even worse. It’s almost like the Pacers were looking for the worst deal they could find. Because they pretty much found it. And Sam Presti just ripped a superstar for nothing.