The Oklahoma City Thunder made a HUGE move Friday with the trade that hauled in Paul George. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. With the move– Sam Presti showed why he’s one of the best in the business. Presti hung tight, hid in plain sight and when everyone thought the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics would end up with PG-13– BOOM. However, as good as the trade was for OKC in terms of a star power– it may have set the team back.
You may be asking how can a trade for one of the best two-way players in the league actually set a team back? Well, It’s really easy to explain.
Pairing Paul George with Russell Westbrook can be viewed as a good thing. Both players are dangerous in the open and half court. However, their games are way too similar to work as a unit. What worked well for Russell and Kevin Durant was that each player had a different skill set. Westbrook attacked the rim and kicked out to Durant for a perimeter shot. George is not a Durant type player. He will take the kick out and head right back to the spot where Russell just passed from.
The only way this trade would have been successful were if Victor Oladipo had stayed. By trading Oladipo, the Thunder gave away their 3rd scoring option. This is the reason the Thunder no longer have Durant. He and Westbrook could not continue to carry the load alone. Now you bring in George and it’s deja vu all over again. Oladipo averaged 16 points last season as the 2nd fiddle- who’s going to step up now? Presti did not consider the damage he could do with George and Westbrook.
Another reason for the setback will be–the future.
Who knows what the future holds for the Thunder? The reason for the Indiana Pacers trading George was due to his desire to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. The Thunder are taking a chance on a one-year rental that may or not pay off but in all honesty– how can it? Thunder fans are excited about this pairing but what makes them think a Westbrook/George combo will be better than a Westbrook/Durant combo? The Thunder managed 47 wins last year with Oladipo, however, the West got stronger this offseason. Did they also not notice that Taj Gibson left via Free Agency?
It’s good to dream and while OKC will be fun to watch it’ll be more like a re-run of years past. AND as far as flipping George come deadline time the Thunder must consider why it was so hard for the Pacers to move him. While good, many GM’s belive he’s not worth valuable future draft picks. Presti can trade him for 2 servicable players but expecting a big haul for a player who may leave anyway is a huge risk. George can help a a team win a title but will said team be willing to mortgage their future to help the Thunder out?
I admit I love the move as two of my favorite players unite but what happens if they can’t make it work? George is cheaper than Oladipo and it was a great salary cap move but if the rumors are true– by the start of the 2018 season the Thunder will have tons of cap space but no players to fill it. Thunder fans can look at the crop of Free Agents available in 2018 and question Presti’s motives. OKC will be forced start over again if Westbrook can’t convince George to stay, plus get more help. Great move on paper but horrible decision franchise-wise.