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Paul George Good Fit for Thunder; Will he Stay?

Sam Presti knows what he’s doing

A move that left the NBA and its fans in shock took place on Friday evening. Paul George is being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, and the move brings up plenty of questions.

Anytime a trade is made it is either criticized or praised, but it isn’t that simple. There is so much more involved with moves like this, and the results can fluctuate dramatically.

Will George stay in OKC?

The biggest question, by far, is if George will stay past the 2017-18 season. He has already said he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported on June 29 that he has told those close to him he plans on playing there.

“According to people not authorized to speak publicly, George, a Palmdale native, is still telling friends that he intends to be a Laker in 2018. Because of that, he knows the Lakers have little incentive to trade for him now.”

“Although George’s feelings could change, especially if he is traded to a team he likes, the Lakers aren’t willing to part with too much to trade for him. Second-year forward Brandon Ingram, a favorite of the Lakers’ coaching staff, has caught Indiana’s eye, but is off limits. Without the help of a third team, the Lakers weren’t willing to part with the No. 2 overall pick before the draft — the pick they used to take former UCLA star Lonzo Ball.”

With the trade on Friday, did the Thunder accidentally become the third team without knowing it? It is highly doubtful, but no matter how many fans think this is a one-year rental, George might decide to stay with the Thunder.

Players change their minds all the time, and George could decide to pull an about-face and sign an extension with the Thunder. With all the talk surrounding this concept, this story will be the biggest headline in the NBA all season.

The other aspect to this is what Russell Westbrook decides to do with his five-year, $217 million deal sitting on the table from the Thunder. Reports are that he will hold off on signing the deal for now. But has Oklahoma City done enough to lure Westbrook back towards the deal?

How does George fit with the Thunder?

This question almost feels like a joke in some form. Of course Paul George fits in with the Thunder, and having an MVP guard in Westbrook does not hurt the fit any. Push aside the ridiculous talk of Westbrook padding stats last season because the only way you average a triple-double is by passing the ball to your teammates and them making shots.

George and Westbrook have the ability to be the 2017 version of John Stockton and Karl Malone; pick-and-roll offense that often ends with a thunderous dunk or a kick out pass to an open perimeter shooter.

All fans have to do is look at what George has done in his career with Indiana to see that he can offer plenty for the Thunder.

Paul George Career Stats
Season Tm G MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2010-11 IND 61 20.7 .453 .297 .537 .762 3.7 1.1 1.0 0.4 1.1 7.8
2011-12 IND 66 29.7 .440 .385 .472 .802 5.6 2.4 1.6 0.6 1.8 12.1
2012-13 IND 79 37.6 .419 .362 .457 .807 7.6 4.1 1.8 0.6 2.9 17.4
2013-14 IND 80 36.2 .424 .364 .458 .864 6.8 3.5 1.9 0.3 2.8 21.7
2014-15 IND 6 15.2 .367 .409 .333 .727 3.7 1.0 0.8 0.2 2.0 8.8
2015-16 IND 81 34.8 .418 .371 .447 .860 7.0 4.1 1.9 0.4 3.3 23.1
2016-17 IND 75 35.9 .461 .393 .501 .898 6.6 3.3 1.6 0.4 2.9 23.7
Career 448 32.8 .432 .370 .470 .850 6.3 3.2 1.7 0.4 2.5 18.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/1/2017.

George fits the offense and should be a factor on defense as well. With a possible starting lineup for the upcoming season of Steven Adams (center), Paul George (forward), Alex Abrines (shooting guard), Russell Westbrook (point guard) and Jerami Grant (forward), the Thunder still have some holes to fill. However, the lineup should contain plenty of chemistry even if nothing else is accomplished this offseason.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti has come across as annoyed this offseason, and rightfully so. The continuous questions of production that have swirled since Kevin Durant left would drive anyone mad. But Presti is doing anything but sitting on his laurels.

“We’re involved in everything,” Presti said with a clear sniff of aggravation. “We’re going to pursue everything. Don’t be upset just because it’s not spewing out of this building, that we’re not pursuing the same things that you read about on the internet. We’re going to make all those calls. We’re going to pursue all those things,” per ESPN’s Royce Young.

Presti and the Thunder are just getting started this offseason, and if fans think they are done making moves after the Paul George trade, prepare to be in a continual state of shock.

Watch: Paul George 2016-17 highlights

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