Rumor: Thunder gave Paul George option for trade when he signed max deal in 2018
In the summer of 2018, Paul George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder on a four-year, $136.9 million contract in free agency. The prevailing thought around the NBA was that George and Russell Westbrook would be in OKC for the long haul.
However, the Thunder—after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2019 playoffs in five games—decided to trade George to the Los Angeles Clippers and Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.
George reportedly requested a trade from the Thunder to the Clippers so he could play with two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who signed with L.A. as a free agent.
When George re-signed with the Thunder, it is believed that he was given the opportunity to leave OKC via trade should he decide to at a later date, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
“From what I understand, basically the Thunder told him, ‘Paul, re-sign with us and if you feel like you want to move on, come to us and we will work together with you to accommodate you.’ Which is in fact what happened,” Windhorst said on his ESPN podcast, with RealGM.
The Thunder traded Paul George to the Clippers for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks and two pick swaps.
George averaged 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for the Clippers in 2019-20 while shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from beyond the arc and 87.6 percent from the free throw line.
However, the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in the second round and lost in seven games.