Paul George was presented with an opportunity he simply couldn’t pass up.
George, who signed a four-year contract with the Thunder last summer, shockingly was recruited by Kawhi Leonard as the reigning NBA Finals MVP did his due diligence during his free agency tour. The recruiting worked, as George convinced Oklahoma City to trade him to the Los Angeles Clippers, with whom he’ll play alongside Leonard.
The six-time All-Star’s trade request surely must have come as a stunner to the Thunder, who initially convinced George to stay in OKC last offseason when seemingly the entire sports world was convinced he was bound for the Lakers. Still, Thunder general manager Sam Presti isn’t harvesting any hard feelings toward his now-former player.
“Presti was crestfallen,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne writes. “Just a year ago he’d been rewarded for taking a risk and trading for George when he eschewed all other free-agent meetings and agreed to a four-year contract to remain in Oklahoma City. It was a validation of everything Presti had built and believed in. And while this felt like a repudiation of that, Presti understood.”
The George trade could prove to be the impetus of a full-fledged rebuild in Oklahoma City. The Thunder reportedly will receive a boatload of first-round picks from the Clippers, and they’ll get their hands on another heap of coveted assets should they trade Russell Westbrook. OKC was going to be hard-pressed to contend in the loaded West Conference next season and beyond anyway, so maybe George’s trade request is a blessing in disguise.
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