Paul George to OKC
Sam Presti, the Thunder GM, absolutely fleeced Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers. Presti flipped Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George. George had been on the trade block for close to a month, but this came out of left field. Cleveland, Boston, and the Lakers were the teams rumored to be vying for PG's services. Here are some of my thoughts on the trade:
1) The East is a joke. Just in the past few days, two of the East's top 5 players went West - Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and Paul George to OKC. The East was already noticeably inferior to the West, but now that is only further magnified. In fact, one could make the argument that the East has just 4 of the top 15 players in the NBA (John Wall, Kyrie, Giannis, LeBron). That is startling. The unquestioned winner of this trade is the Cavaliers. Paul George isn't on the Celtics and is out of the East. It looks promising that LeBron will make it back to yet another Finals.
2) Paul George is a poor man's Kevin Durant. The Paul George-Kevin Durant comparisons are bound to take place. But don't get it twisted, PG is not in the same stratosphere as the Slim Reaper. Yes, he can do everything Durant can, but not at the same level. I like the fit of George and Russ, but I think the 4 seed out West is likely their ceiling.
3) This is just a rental. Paul George is LA bound - he's made it well-known that he wants to suit up for the Lakers. The question then becomes, does Russell Westbrook leave with him? I sure hope not, but I think, even though Russ can sign a $200 million extension, he will play out this season and then weigh his options. This might be a do-or-die season for Oklahoma City. Win and perhaps both superstars stay. Struggle and perhaps both superstars leave, causing OKC to start over from square one.
4) Pritchard wanted Paul George out of the East. I find it hard to believe that this was the best offer that the Pacers received for Paul George. Oladipo is a fine player, but he's paid $21 million per year over the next 4 seasons, so he isn't exactly a bargain. Word on the street is that the Celtics offered three first rounder's and Jae Crowder for PG on the night of the draft. If that is in fact true, there is only one possible explanation for why George was dealt to Oklahoma City - the Pacers didn't want to assist in turning one of their conference foes into a goliath. I am not sure I would have worried about that if I were the Pacers. They aren't going to be truly competitive for awhile, so they shouldn't have been worried about making the Celtics better. Instead, they should've been concerned with making sure they received the best return. I am not so sure they did.