Did Paul George Give the Thunder a Fair Chance?
The L.A. Clippers have elevated to one of the best teams in the league that has been streamlined by the addition of two of the game’s best players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With the Clippers getting past the Oklahoma City Thunder, which has brought into focus George’s time with the Thunder that lasted just two seasons. Given how things unfolded with the franchise, it’s fair to assess whether the star forward gave the team a fair shake.
Thunder make risky move to land Paul George
During the latter end of his tenure the Indiana Pacers, the chatter began to spruce about George’s interest in joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, things never came into fruition with the Lakers in the first few months of the offseason with any deal. It opened the gate to the Oklahoma City Thunder to jump right in to take a chance by acquiring George in a blockbuster trade at the start of free agency.
The move brought another All-Star forward to pair alongside Russell Westbrook a year after Kevin Durant decided to depart for the Golden State Warriors. It also put them back on the map as one of the top teams in the stacked Western Conference with what they hoped was a chance to compete for an NBA title.
More than two months later, the team also acquired former All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to help form their version of a Big 3. Oklahoma City had the potential makings of a highly formidable team in the league.
Paul George inked a max deal with Thunder, but departed
His first year with the Thunder had many bumps along the way, but the team secured one of the top marks in the Western Conference. However, the team fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz.
That quickly fueled speculation that George would head to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, which was ramped up after he made a documentary following his free agency decision. Instead of taking the expected route, he decided to skip free agency altogether to sign a four-year, $137 million max deal.
The decision to go this route made it quite clear that he wanted to be there for the long haul next to former league MVP. The pairing didn’t last much longer as they played just one more season together before another frustrating first-round exit, which led to not only George being moved, but also Westbrook.
It was time to move on
The opportunity to play alongside another perineal All-Star was a unique situation. Still, it likely became clear to George that competing for an NBA title with Westbrook was going to be a highly challenging task.
The Thunder went through two first-round playoff exits, and there was some brewing frustration from both superstars. All that combined with the reigning NBA Finals MVP contacting him to play next with him in Los Angeles made it an easy call to move on from Oklahoma City.
The writing was on the wall that the Thunder needed change with the pairing of George and Westbrook hitting their ceiling. If there is any party that was up in arms about the entire matter, it would have been the Lakers. There was significant talk of his keen interest in joining the franchise up until he re-signed with the Thunder.
The Lakers have since put that behind them with Anthony Davis now in the mix alongside LeBron James, but it was ultimately a situation that George felt it was time for a new chapter elsewhere. There will always be Thunder fans angered by him leaving a year into his max contract, but he acted in his best interest with his long-term future in mind.