Westbrook's New Running Mate
For weeks now the NBA world has wondered where Paul George will go. After all the rumors for his rental services the Pacers said yes to the Thunder’s offer of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for George. The reality of it is General Manager Sam Presti has been wanting George since the trade deadline in February and has been reading between the lines of his quotes and noticed he wants to win over anything. He felt pairing George with MVP Russell Westbrook would be a dynamite duo that can mirror among the best in the league.
Indy wanted a player that can play right away and someone to develop. After not trading George on draft night the Pacers didn’t want picks unless they were premium picks that Boston owns for next year’s draft. This might not look like the best haul that Indy could have received but the potential that Oladipo has was the driving force for this trade. Oladipo has bad defensive habits, needs to improve his three-point shot, great athlete, good playmaker who can get to the basket, can score 17-18 points per game and will match well with up and coming player Myles Turner. Sabonis is someone who can do a little bit of everything but is still young and raw who's a few years away from being a nice player who will make an impact in the league.
The Thunder made this deal happen for trading the expiring contract of Serge Ibaka on draft night 2016 to Orlando. OKC received Oladipo, Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova, Presti flipped Ilyasova and a 2020 protected first round pick to Philly for Jeremy Grant. OKC just picked up a team option on Grant’s contract for a meager 1.3 million. After extending Oladipo and Steven Adams before the season OKC was locked into their team for the foreseeable future. Heading into free agency OKC was going to be way over the cap if they re-signed Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson and lock in a 47-win team that would have trouble getting out of the first round of the playoffs. George will make 19.25 million this season Oladipo will make 20 million and Sabonis is on a rookie contract. In the end OKC saves a little bit of money to the cap, this will leave room to lock Andre Roberson down, pay the luxury tax, which will give them a team that should be a 3-4 seed in the West.
If you could think of the perfect star to fit next to Westbrook, George would be as close as you can get as a wing player. Both are ball dominant players but George will un clog the lane for Westbrook to roam in. Westbrook will be able to find George for catch and shoot threes all season long. Pair that with the willing passer and facilitator George can bring to the table while Westbrook is out of the game for a break and this can be a duo that will be hard to stop. Watch for Westbrook, Roberson and George hounding the opposing teams on the perimeter will be frightening and can make life difficult for so many opponents to be able to run their respective offenses. This trade was to show Westbrook that the organization is willing to take risks and gamble to win in this league to make him happy and resign for a five-year deal that will be worth more then what Stephen Curry just got paid by the Warriors. OKC is banking on how they are a well ran organization who wants to win and a year under Head Coach Billy Donovan paired with a superstar in Westbrook can be the formula to get George to stay and sign long term.
This trade will put the Thunder in place for a division title battling with Minnesota and Denver. This will have OKC go 53-29 and a fight for the third seed in the west with Houston. Unloading Oladipo’s contract was important to go after another star in future years with the cap situation they have available to themselves. If George says he won’t resign, OKC will manage compensation for a desperate team that will want his services at the trade deadline. Presti has taken a swing for the fences and the ball is tracking to get out of the park only time will tell if it goes over the wall.