During the summer of 2017, the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a deal that was, at the time, widely considered a coup for the Thunder.
Two mostly unproven role players for a two-way superstar? That’s highway robbery.
Of course, that is not exactly how things turned out.
While Oladipo, a former No. 2 overall pick, was bit of disappointment over his first four seasons, three of which came with the Orlando Magic, the shooting guard busted out during his first season with the Pacers, averaging 23.1 points per game en route to an All-Star appearance.
Sabonis? He is now a double-double machine, and while he is somewhat lacking on the defensive end and isn’t really a big man who spaces the floor, he has a lot of value in his post scoring and rebounding alone.
As for the Thunder, well, we know how things ended there.
George lasted just two years in Oklahoma City, enduring a pair of first-round knockouts before requesting a trade. The Thunder obliged, sending him to the Los Angeles Clippers for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a collection of five draft picks this past summer.
But deciding who won the initial Pacers-Thunder really isn’t that simple for a couple of reasons.
First of all, Oladipo suffered a devastating quad tendon tear in January and still has not returned. There is no definitive timetable for his return, but the general consensus is that it won’t be until late December or January.
When he does come back, we don’t know how healthy he will be, as only two players have ever sustained the injury Oladipo is dealing with: Charles Barkley and Tony Parker, and they were both in the twilights of their careers when it happened.
On OKC’s side of things, an argument can be made that it depends on how Gilgeous-Alexander develops and how Sam Presti uses all of those draft picks, even though some of them are well into the future.
George could be viewed as an asset that the Thunder used to facilitate a rebuild, even if that was not their original intention when they first acquired George two years ago.
Trades are rarely binary, and you can see why. There are so many variables at play that it is sometimes impossible to determine which side truly won the deal.
This is one of those times.
Obviously, on the surface, it looks like Indiana came out on top, because George no longer even plays for Oklahoma City, and the Pacers still have Oladipo and Sabonis.
But again, that heavily depends on the health of Oladipo and whether or not the Thunder can make hay on the stash of draft picks they received in return for George back in July.
It truly is a shame that Oladipo went down last year, because he was on his way to becoming one of the best players in basketball.
Hopefully, Oladipo can return and resume playing like a top-level wing, but until that happens and until we see exactly what will become of Gilgeous-Alexander and Oklahoma City’s treasure chest of draft choices, the clear winner of the Pacers-Thunder trade will remain up in the air.