Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news on Friday night:
Paul George has been traded to OKC, per sources
She then filled in the details of the return that Indiana got:
Hearing Oladipo and Sabonis going to Indy
Indiana Pacers Trade Paul George to Oklahoma City Thunder
George has two years left on his contract. However, he has a $20.7 million player option for the 2018-19 season, which he will likely decline, as the NBA’s rising salary cap will allow George to sign a larger maximum contract. George signed his current five-year, $90 million deal as a contract extension with the Pacers back in 2013, and it first kicked in during the 2014-15 season. The veteran has played all seven of his NBA seasons with the Pacers, who drafted him 10th overall in 2010.
George has been in many trade rumors over the past year, especially in the days leading up to February’s trade deadline, when reports such as this one by Sam Amick of USA Today revealed that George is dead set on going to his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. With George clearly ready to leave the Pacers – informing them that he would leave as a free agent in 2018 – trade rumors swirled over the past several weeks. Indiana would rather get assets in return for George than lose him for nothing in free agency. Various reports indicated that the Pacers had engaged in trade discussions with the Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, the Portland Trail Blazers, and others regarding George.
Finally, it appears as though the Pacers finally found a deal they liked. The Thunder will have to hope that George is willing to re-sign when his deal is up in July 2018. Otherwise, they’ll have given up valuable assets and come away with nothing. The Pacers had very little leverage in negotiations, not only due to George wanting to leave, but also because George intends to sign with the Lakers. Most teams feared that he would only be one-year rental, so they were reluctant to make their best offers. However, Oklahoma City clearly believes that it can convince George to re-sign after one season next to Russell Westbrook.
From the Pacers’ perspective, they finally end the speculation surrounding George. Indiana has managed to salvage something from its disgruntled star, similar to what the Denver Nuggets did with Carmelo Anthony back in 2011. The Pacers now have the young players they’ve acquired, to go along with their young centerpiece, Myles Turner. With George out of the picture, Indiana is now completely in rebuilding mode. The Pacers will likely throw next season away in order to get a high draft pick to add another high-upside player to their core. Their future is now a lot less cloudy than it was before trading George.
Some may think that Indiana got 50 cents on the dollar for George. However, Brian Windhorst of ESPN speculates that the Pacers received weak offers due to George’s impending 2018 free agency:
What OKC gave up for George (no picks) an indication of weakness of offers to Indiana. And how afraid teams are that PG will walk next year
Oklahoma City’s Reasoning
The Thunder add an elite two-way player in George, who has made three NBA All-Defense teams, including First Team All-Defense in 2014. George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game last season. He also shot a career-high 46.1 percent from the field, and a stellar 39.3 percent from downtown. After breaking his leg in the summer of 2014 and missing nearly the entire 2014-15 season, George seems to have made a full recovery. He’s made two straight All-Star appearances and led the Pacers to the playoffs in consecutive years.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe noted that George may be the perfect fit to pair with Westbrook on the wing:
Paul George is a perfect second star for Russ. Elite defender, spot-up threat off the ball, best as secondary ball-handler.
George could be the difference that propels the Thunder to become title contenders in the near future, as a dynamic second option next to Westbrook. We’ll have to see if he chooses to re-sign with the team, come next July.