The Thunder have added some big help for MVP Russell Westbrook, as just hours before free agency begins, the Thunder struck a deal to acquire all-star SF Paul George from the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo. George has been on the trade market for a while now, as the Pacers have passed on offers from Atlanta and the Los Angeles Lakers from what we know.
A season after the departure of star SF Kevin Durant, the Thunder have added another one. George will provide much needed help to the Thunder, as after a historic season from Russell Westbrook, the Thunder got knocked out in the first round by the Houston Rockets. George will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season, so this trade is a huge risk for the Thunder depending on where George will go in free agency next year.
George just came off a great season, where he had career highs in points per game (23.7), free throw percentage (89.8%), field goal percentage (46.1%), and three-point percentage (39%- if you exclude 2014-2015 when he played 6 games). He also played a career high in minutes. George just turned 27 and is entering the prime of his career. Him and Russell Westbrook could put the Thunder in the top four in the tough Western Conference.
As for Indiana, they receive two nice, young players in Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo. Oladipo has 3 years left on his 4yr/84m deal he signed with OKC last offseason. Oladipo was viewed as a piece of the Thunder core after the Thunder handed out 184 million dollars to Oladipo and Steven Adams last year, but those deals haven’t panned out. Oladipo has always been a solid player, as this season he averaged 16 PPG. Sabonis was a first-round pick last season and averaged 6 PPG in 20 minutes per game for OKC.
This seems like a desperation move from Indiana, as there were reportedly better offers throughout the season and draft. Notable rumors included the Hawks offering four 1st round picks and the Lakers offering Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and 2 first round picks. But, with free agency coming up in a couple of hours, it was important for the Pacers to strike a deal, and that’s exactly what they did.
Sabonis or Oladipo don’t have star potential, but it’s important that the Pacers were able to move George after he told them he would be leaving after next season. As for the Thunder, this is a risky move, but if George stays long term in OKC, it will be a steal. Westbrook and George will look to light up scoreboards next season and hopefully challenge the Warriors in the Western Conference. With just hours remaining till free agency, don’t be surprised if this move convinces other free agents to look at OKC as a potential destination.