Everything changed when four-time all-star Paul George announced that he would join his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, after finishing his Indiana Pacers contract after the 2017-2018 season. George’s attitude irritated the management of Pacers, his team since he joined the NBA. From then on, the Pacers began negotiating trades with other teams, including entertaining offers with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics in order to avoid losing him for nothing, the same way Oklahoma City lost Kevin Durant. Surprisingly, the Pacers accepted OKC’s offer in the end: they sent Paul George to OKC, and got Victor Oladipo, a 25-year-old shooting guard from University of Indiana, and Domantas Sabonis, a young developing power forward who can shoot and play defense. Who benefited from the trade? Who made the wrong choice?
To Paul George:
It absolutely must have been a hard decision for PG to announce his plans for after the upcoming season right now. It shows his disappointment with the Pacers and his willingness to go back to his home team. However, now, everything changes. For the following season, he has the chance to be teammates with Russell Westbrook, one of the best players in the league and the MVP of this past season. It’s a totally different team, as PG now has the chance to fight for greater accomplishments. With the Thunder, PG’s role will no longer be as the first option-star player, which will probably make him unhappy, but will give him the chance to help Russell Westbrook, which is a completely good thing for PG.
As everyone knows, George can play as both a small forward and a power forward (not to mention he started out as a shooting guard), has great shooting range and spectacular defensive skills. With the Indiana Pacers, as the only star, he had to lead the team from both sides. Offensively, when the team was in trouble, he would be the one to take and make the tough shots, while on defense, he would be assigned to the best player in the other team. In OKC, Westbrook will take charge of the ball, creating more shooting space for Paul George, a guy who took 6.6 attempts from the 3-point line on average this past season at a rate of 39.4%. This would absolutely benefit PG for bigger plays. George himself has said that if OKC makes huge breakthroughs (like winning the conference championship), it’s not definite that he will go to LA.
To Russell Westbrook:
After losing KD, Westbrook finally gets help. This past season, Westbrook attempted countless impossible layups and jump shots, which led to a lot of people criticizing his selfishness. The fact is, there were no other players on OKC that could have helped Westbrook. It changed when PG arrived. In the upcoming season, Westbrook needs to share the ball more often as PG is on the team. Westbrook will probably not score as well as he did this year, but the whole team will undoubtedly perform better and go further in the playoffs.
To OKC Thunder:
After a first-round exit this season, the OKC Thunder goes back to being a competitive team. Outside of a developing Brandon Ingram, Paul George’s game and style probably the most similar to that of Kevin Durant. As OKC adds other pieces like PF Patrick Patterson, they will probably have a starting five consisting of Westbrook, Andre Roberson, PG, Patterson and Steven Adams, with capable backups at every position except the four spot. The public insist that this roster would still find difficulty in competing with the Golden State Warriors, but this is most definitely the best team that they can possibly form. Miracles happen all the time. Who knows?
To Indiana Pacers:
Many experts argue that Indiana Pacers make the worst choice, because OKC’s offer is not as good as Cavs’ and Celtic’s. No matter the trade is bad or not, it marks the start of rebuild for Pacers. Victor Oladipo is only 24 years old. Although he did not play well enough in OKC, he could still score more than 15 points this season. Domantas Sabonis is a first-year. This young man from Gonzaga already shows his talents. Pacers managers see their potentials and make the choice. Whether these two young men will realize the managers’ hope is a question. Just wait and see.