Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder need some help if they want to return to the Western Conference’s elite. That has led to the Thunder being interested in acquiring Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, according to one of the NBA trade rumors circulating.
Headlines and Global News has cited that the Oklahoma City Thunder want to trade for Indiana Pacers’ star forward Paul George. It is the idea that George could fill in the void created by the defection of Kevin Durant during NBA free agency. There are no confirmed offers made by the Thunder in an effort to get Paul George, but one thing is certain — help is needed in Oklahoma City.
As of now, Russell Westbrook is the only player capable of creating his own shot. Westbrook is basically averaging a triple-double after five games into the season.
Russell Westbrook on how OKC handled the emotions, trash talk of Thunder-Warriors: pic.twitter.com/EOW6THLNu1— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) November 4, 2016
The Thunder are 4-1 thus far, but their blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors revealed a flaw. When Russell Westbrook struggles, so will the Thunder. The superstar point guard has played amazing basketball, but he cannot do it alone. If the trend continues the Oklahoma City Thunder will be in deep trouble.
Not only did the Thunder lose 122-96 to the Warriors, but they were on the wrong end of a ton of trash talk, according to CBS Sports. Expect Russell Westbrook and the Thunder to answer back in their next meeting, although in order for the results to be different, they will need a reinforcement or two.
If there is some factual information to the NBA trade rumors surrounding the Thunder, help could be coming, just do not bank on it being Paul George.
Although a trade can be managed by the Thunder and Pacers, it takes two to make a deal. Despite the Indiana Pacers early struggles, they are likely in no hurry to dump their best player. And interestingly enough, the Thunder have the assets to use in a trade for another star player.
The Thunder arguably boasts one of the NBA’s most promising frontcourts. Steven Adams just recently signed a hefty contract extension, according to NBA.com, which cements his status with the Thunder. Conversely, center Enis Kanter can be had in a trade if the Thunder finds a partner.
Would an offer of Enis Kanter, Kyle Singler, Cameron Payne, and draft picks be enough for the Pacers to accept a deal? That is up for debate. It would be a strong deal from the Thunder’s standpoint, but the Pacers are not sellers at this time.
It is okay to play general manager for a moment. If the Pacers will trade him, Paul George would fit like a glove with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
First, George’s skills are comparable to Kevin Durant. That would make him an ideal candidate to play alongside Russell Westbrook. Defensively, George is superior to Durant, while being a lesser offensive player.
There is not a steep drop-off in scoring ability between Paul George and Kevin Durant, so if the Thunder were to acquire him from the Pacers things would be seamless. But it will not happen. George means too much to the Pacers and their potential playoff run. Do not look for anything to take place between the Thunder and Pacers despite the NBA trade rumors.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder want to get help for Russell Westbrook, they will have to look someplace else. There is zero chance that the Indiana Pacers will trade Paul George this season. However, other options do present themselves, and one in a possible trade and the other from a recent deal.
The Sacramento Kings may decide that it is time to trade Rudy Gay and could seek a trade with the Thunder.
Since the Thunder has a weakness at small forward, Gay is a viable choice. If the Kings return to listening to offers for Rudy Gay, the Thunder should be the first team on the phone.
Gay is a solid complimentary player, with the offensive game of a star. That would work well for the Thunder. Nothing is suggesting that the Kings are going to trade Gay, but that may change. If it does, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be one of Gay’s possible landing spots.
Thunder's Jerami Grant throws down poster dunk on Warriors' Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/wCzWcDOGNr— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 4, 2016
Jerami Grant has emerged as another option. The Thunder added Grant (courtesy of ESPN) from the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade just days ago. Grant has the tools to develop into a solid NBA pro.
The son of former NBA standout Harvey Grant, Jerami has the length to be a great defensive player. If he can develop two legitimate offensive moves, Grant and the Thunder will be alright.
If Jerami Grant can live up to his potential, Russell Westbrook will have another running mate for a few years without the high cost. Chances are good that as Grant gets a better feel for his Thunder teammates, he will eventually take over a starter role. That could negate the need for the Thunder to venture out and pursue the Pacers’ Paul George or anyone else.
The beauty to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s search for a replacement to Kevin Durant is that they have time. As that time passes, Jerami Grant could turn into just the player the Thunder are looking for.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]