Paul George is likely getting traded in the very near future, but of all the potential destinations for the four-time All-Star, one obvious landing spot hasn’t been mentioned: Oklahoma City. The Indiana Pacers should contact the Thunder immediately about a potential George swap. It would be a deal that could benefit both sides tremendously.
As it stands, the Pacers are barely going to get 30 cents on the dollar for George, so they need to find a trade that is somehow a public relations win. The Thunder can provide that. Plus, Oklahoma City must find someone to take pressure off Russell Westbrook and prove to him the franchise is serious about winning long-term. Acquiring George would send that message.
The deal should center around a swap of George for Victor Oladipo, with other pieces (Domantas Sabonis and/or picks) thrown in to appease the Pacers. Oladipo is still wildly popular in the Hoosier state after his tenure at Indiana University, and bringing him in would give the Pacers a huge PR win to sell to fans. It would make trading George much easier to swallow. Other pieces would need to be included to make the salaries match up, but a deal of this kind would be a win for both sides.
The Pacers would get a guy in Oladipo who just turned 25 and is coming off a down season. It’s really difficult to shine when Westbrook is using up so many possessions, but Oladipo certainly had his moments. He agreed to a four-year, $84 million extension with the Thunder in October and, while he turned in a career-worst 13.62 PER, that came while playing with a guy dominating the ball and the stat sheet. Oladipo likely needs to get out of OKC for his career to truly take off.
Meanwhile, the Thunder must find a consistent running buddy for Westbrook, and George could fill that role admirably. Put George into a lineup that includes Russ, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Enes Kanter and you might have the third-best team in the Western Conference. Hey, that’s better than where the Thunder are now, sitting in sixth.
Maybe George doesn’t re-sign with Oklahoma City next summer, but if he left that would leave enough space under the cap to go out and try to lure another big-time free agent. Either way, it’s a chance for the Thunder to show Westbrook they mean business.
The Pacers could sell fans on exciting tandem of Oladipo and Myles Turner as the future, re-sign Jeff Teague if they so chose and make the 18th pick in this year’s draft part of the future core. That’s not a bad place to start what is sure to be a long rebuild.
This is the kind of trade the Pacers should be pursuing. And it’s one that would be easy to sell to fans.