The Oklahoma City Thunder pulled the rug from underneath the Los Angeles Lakers’ feet, nabbing Paul George and his services before the start of free agency with a trade that sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Indiana Pacers.
At first, the 6-foot-9 versatile wing saw the trade as a slap in the face, as he told Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt on USA TODAY Sports’ A to Z podcast.
“I took it as it was a kick in the behind, like, ‘Go ahead and go try to beat the Warriors. Go play alongside Russ and get your butt kicked against the Warriors.’ That’s how I looked at how that trade went down, because honestly we had no idea OKC was even interested or was in the trade until the trade actually happened,” said George. “But again, I’m not here to trash Indiana. They have some of the best people I’ve ever met in their front office and in that organization. I grew up there. I could go on and on (with) the positives in Indiana, but that’s where my thought process and my — that’s where I, I guess, my opportunity to leave had opened up.”
George was reportedly hellbent on going to the Lakers, with his camp openly informing other franchises to not trade for him, as he would be unwilling to re-sign with them in the summer of 2018 — making him nothing more than a rental.
The Thunder ultimately took the chance to do so, and rewarded both Russell Westbrook and George with the recent trade for Carmelo Anthony, presenting a three-headed monster to rival the most potent offense in the Western Conference.
George is in a much better situation than he anticipated, and has a chance to match the firepower the Golden State Warriors will put out this season with a re-bolstered team that has kept its core intact throughout the offseason.