The Paul George era in Indianapolis is finally over.
It was inevitable. A trade was imminent. But, to the Oklahoma City Thunder? That was a shocker. The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and of course the Los Angeles Lakers were all rumored to have a chance at Paul George. No one saw this coming.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported George was dealt to the Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis just hours before the start of free agency.
The Los Angeles native informed the Pacers of his intentions to leave the franchise in the summer of 2018 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. George also expressed his desire to return home to play for the Lakers.
Shortly after the trade, George took to Instagram to express his gratitude to his fans in Indiana.
View this post on Instagram
I can go on and on with pics and comments but INDIANA.. THANK YOU for all that you've been for my family and I! I've met and worked with some of the most unbelievable human beings I think I will ever meet! You all know who you are.. Indy you'll be in great hands with the future! Love you all
In a separate post, he also uploaded a photo of him and his future teammate, Russell Westbrook. The caption read “The Brodie. #OKC.”
The four-time All-Star forward will have the opportunity to play with the reigning MVP in a loaded western conference next season. George averaged 27.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists with the Pacers 2016-17.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder needed to get Westbrook some help after his historic season. He averaged a triple-double for the first time since Oscar Robertson.
In essence, George is a great consolation prize for Kevin Durant’s departure last summer. He can score from the perimeter, get to the free throw line and defend the opposing team’s best player. His offense will help the Thunder, as they were helpless when Westbrook was off the court.
Since this would likely be a one-year rental for Paul George, the Thunder will do everything imaginable to persuade him to stay beyond next season.
How does Oklahoma City stack up in an improved western conference with the Golden State Warriors retaining Stephen Curry, the San Antonio Spurs targeting Andre Iguodala, the Houston Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and the Minnesota Timberwolves obtaining Jimmy Butler?
Indiana on the other hand, enters rebuild mode with the acquisition of Victor Oladipo. The team will likely focus on developing their young center in Myles Turner.
The Pacers are also slated to lose their starting point guard in free agency. ESPN’s Marc Stein has reported that Jeff Teague will sign a three-year $57 million deal with the Timberwolves.
According to ESPN, the franchise could’ve acquired three future first-round picks and two starters from the Celtics on draft night. Did Indiana settle? Some would think so.
George’s departure weakens the eastern conference even more. Another cakewalk for the Cavaliers should be imminent.
What remains to be seen is George and Westbrook’s on-court chemistry. Keep an eye out on their relationship this season. A plan to join the Lakers next summer could very well be in play.