A cynic’s look at the Paul George trade
Leading up to last night, every Paul George rumour was linked with Boston, Cleveland, Houston or the Lakers. Nobody saw this coming… Well that is, nobody saw it coming but ESPN’s Zach Lowe:
While the Thunder’s stock has skyrocketed for the low-low price of last offseason’s Serge Ibaka trade…I just don’t quite get what the Thunder are trying to do.
There team is certainly better, and nobody should possibly believe otherwise, but is it now good enough to be playoff-relevant in the tough Western Conference?
If the team reverts back to the two-star ball hawking style that it played in 2015-16, then the team is a worse version of the won that couldn’t get past the Warrior in the Conference Finals. Essentially sub Durant for George and Serge Ibaka for Taj Gibson and as a whole this Thunder team wouldn’t beat Durant’s version if you were to run a 2k simulation.
If the team doesn’t revert back to their old style and continues play the all-Westbrook all-the-time force feeding triple double style, then I think that it is a gross waste of Paul George’s talents.
What’s being missed here is the fact that people are just assuming that PG13 is willing to concede touches. George will be slotted into Victor Oladipo’s spot in the starting rotation and as the secondary ball handler. Last season Oladipo averaged 13.2 field goal attempts per game which would be George’s lowest since the 2011-12 season. One would assume that George will get more touches than Oladipo, but to what extent will he have to concede his game to Russel Westbrook’s? Is this prepared to play second fiddle to Brodie?
It can be tough for superstars to play with Westbrook, and this is one of the many reasons that Durant left the Thunder last offseason. Which brings me to my next point: will the Thunder even be able to re-sign George? The allure of Boston, Cleveland or Houston were that their championship-calibre rosters that could sway PG to re-sign to play for a contender and pull him away from his hometown LA Lakers. This Thunder can’t add a third super-star before next season starts unless they are able to move the Enes Kanter or Steven Adams contract and let RFA Andre Roberson walk. Even if they could do that, who else is there to get? As constructed, I feel that this OKC Thunder team is destined with another year as an “also-ran” in the brutal Western Conference. The Warriors are monsters, San Antonio and Houston are dominant after-thoughts to Golden State, Utah might be bringing Hayward back and something’s cooking in Minnesota.
Unless the booming metropolis of Oklahoma City can capture the heart of their newest superstar, he’s signing with the Lakers a year from today.
Now reports are that Westbrook is impressed by the OKC’s commitment to fielding a competitive team and may sign for the supermax sometime this week. If Oladipo and Sabonis are the tax for retaining one of the most electric stars in the NBA then you’ll take that everyday. Let’s just hope that this trade doesn’t backfire and give the Lakers’ next star, Paul George, a networking opportunity with Cali native and 2018 UFA Russell Westbrook.