By Calvin Alexander
Tonight Sam Presti used his Magic (again) to bring Paul George to Oklahoma City, but wait there’s more. On the surface, this looks like Presti traded young talent for a one-year rental (a term that will be used way too much over the next couple of days) to get PG13 to OKC and send Oladipo and Sabonis to Indy.
Bringing George to OKC is an amazing trade and everyone should have started running around their house yelling in joy (like I did) right after the trade was announced. But there is still a glaring issue that OKC needs to address which is backup Point Guard. Also now with the trade, the Thunder are looking thin at shooting guard. It’s hard to think Abrines could start next year in Oladipo’s place or Roberson, but free throw meltdown in round one of the playoffs is hard to forget. Oladipo looked good in spots for the Thunder, but in the end, Oladipo was not the second option or the sidekick for Westbrook. Trading Oladipo and his contract opens up some possibilities for the Thunder.
Then there’s the loss of Sabonis, who started over 50 games in his rookie year. After OKC traded for Taj, Sabonis’ role was reduced and then in the playoffs, Sabonis barely saw the court. While at Gonzaga Sabonis looked like he had great footwork, but after Sabonis got to OKC his footwork was still there but his level of play was not close to the level it needed to be to play in the playoffs. Now Sabonis is gone and PG13 can start at the four in his place but that seems unlikely, hopefully, Taj Gibson will resign with OKC and Kanter will take over the other part of Sabonis’ minutes but losing Sabonis isn’t bad at all in my mind.
With Paul George in the lineup, OKC should be looking at the second seed in the West, OKC needs a backup point guard but with the minutes between George and Westbrook staggered, the Thunder won’t be miserable on offense when one of the stars takes quick break. George is an All-Star type player and besides the Warriors, this Thunder team can hang with the Rockets and the Spurs (the Clippers are not in the discussion until they get a real point guard).
Last season OKC had the third worst shooting percentage from downtown, but with the addition of PG13 who averaged close to 40% (39.3%) from 3 last season, the Thunder will shoot better from deep, which will open the floor for the league’s reigning MVP to attack the basket even more than he did last season while averaging a triple-double.
OKC still needs a backup Point Guard, try to resign Taj Gibson or trade Kanter for a PF, figure out if the SG role can be fulfilled from within or if there’s a mid-level exception that can be used to bring someone in to fill the void, but the excitement is here. Presti made a steal of a trade tonight (OKC PD said it was legal, but I need more verification than a tweet) and OKC won this trade without a doubt.