The Oklahoma City Thunder has bounced back from their early season struggles as the main man Russell Westbrook began to re-assert himself as his team’s undisputed leader. It has resulted in six straight wins during a nine-day stretch for OKC, lifting them back in the West’s playoff picture.
Carmelo Anthony told ESPN’s Royce Young that the Thunder is most effective when Westbrook is “just playing” and not “trying to defer” to him or Paul George. Anthony then continued that he and George should “figure it out,” referring to how the two All-Stars need to adjust their respective games to supplement that of Westbrook’s.
However, the Thunder has lost two consecutive games since then, including a sorry 116-113 loss to the surging Dallas Mavericks at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on New Year’s Eve. With another disappointing home defeat to an evidently weaker team, the rumor mill has again swirled around George.
Recent trade rumors have linked him to the Los Angeles Lakers once more, while there are also speculations saying that he intends to wait until the summer to join the Hollywood squad via free-agency.
What has been consistent in the news, though, is that the Thunder might not be able to keep George past this season, whether or not OKC’s current Big Three experiment succeeds.
With that, a lot of NBA fans online have expressed their opinions regarding the former NBA Most Improved Player’s potential future in the league. The latest one of those suggestions was mentioned in FanSided’s Behind the Buck Pass blog, proposing the Milwaukee Bucks to offer young players Khris Middleton and Thon Maker to the Thunder in exchange for George.
NBA analyst Rohan Katti gauged the proposal, saying that getting George would launch the Bucks “into the very top-tier of the Eastern Conference with Cleveland and Boston” and that the team could “even be the favorites to win the conference.”
However, Katti also mentioned that George’s well-known “desire to play in Los Angeles with the Lakers” is a risk Milwaukee should carry as soon as a trade is completed.
Middleton, 26, is a potential future All-Star and has been putting up All-Star numbers of 20.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.2 steals in 37.4 minutes per game for the Bucks despite earning a below-market salary. Meanwhile, Maker is a 20-year-old seven-footer that also has a lot of upsides.
Should George decide to pursue his Lakers dream in the summer, then the Bucks will be left without him, Middleton and Maker moving forward, Katti said.