BREAKING: Paul George Traded to Thunder

By Darreck Kirby
Project Shanks Creative Director

In a stunning move just hours before the opening of NBA free agency, the Oklahoma City Thunder made waves in acquiring the 27-year-old superstar. As with any trade, there are at least two outlooks moving forward. So let’s break down this blockbuster piece by piece, shall we?

Thunder Perspective 
This is about as big of a case of high risk, high reward as you can get for GM Sam Presti and the Thunder. Although they acquired George at the shockingly low price of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, they are acquiring a player going into the last year of his deal who -by all reports- wanted to go to the Los Angeles Lakers. He can’t be terribly thrilled by going to an even smaller market now, though the chance to play alongside one of the 5 best players in the league -not to mention reigning MVP- should help that somewhat. George is an elite two-way player and is coming off a fantastic year that saw him average 23.7PPG, 6.6RBS, and 3.3 Assists per contest. Digging even deeper, however, you’ll see he also averaged 1.5 steals per game and shot 41% from the floor, including 39% from deep -the only player to achieve such a feat last season. With this, Westbrook now has another superstar to play alongside and it’s someone who is legitimately the best possible player OKC could’ve possibly hoped to get. He also does the most to plug that KD-sized hole in their roster.

There’s no doubt George makes OKC better, but if this is the only move, but unless Presti has one more trick up his sleeve, say a Paul Millsap or Zach Randolph, this move may well do little in the way of closing the gap between the Thunder and the Western Conference’s elite. Still, with Westbrook’s free agency looming, you can’t blame Presti for swinging for the fences and taking a chance on the best option possible.

Pacers Perspective
Seriously? Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis was the best you could get? Know what? No. No, it wasn’t. As an admitted Thunder fan I’m certainly not upset you didn’t demand more, but damn, what changed? ¬†Back at the trade deadline, there were reports you wanted three first round picks for Paul George. Now, you practically gave the guy away. It’s amazing what a few months can do…

As for Oladipo, he was actually pretty solid in Oklahoma City in his one season, putting up 15.9PPG and 4.3 RBS a night on 44% from the field. He also signed a nice contract extension upon Kevin Durant ditching OKC in favor of Golden State. That contract was 4 years for $84 million, a deal many felt was a bit steep given Oladipo’s outside shooting limitation. Still, he’s going home to Indiana five seasons in the NBA, so that’s something. As for Domantas Sabonis, the stretch forward was a first-round pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder after gaining Orlando’s first-round draft pick as part of the Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo trade. In his rookie year, Sabonis averaged 5.9PPG and 3.6RBS on 39.9% shooting and 32% from deep. I don’t doubt he can become a viable role player for a good team, but for a team in Oklahoma City’s position, he was more than expendable for Paul George. For the Pacers, meanwhile, he might be just the kind of project they’re looking for now that they appear to be in rebuilding mode following the trade of Paul George and Jeff Teague.

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