All-Star forward Paul George made one of the biggest headlines in the 2019 NBA offseason when he demanded a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead of keeping an unhappy superstar on their roster, the Thunder were left with no choice but to trade George to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he teamed up with reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
During his introductory press conference with the Clippers on Wednesday, Paul George shared interesting details of his trade request and thanked the Thunder for being collaborative. According to Royce Young of ESPN, George claimed that his camp and the Thunder worked “hand in hand” and added that it was a “mutual thing” for both parties to go in different directions. George’s statements reached the Thunder’s organization, including general manager, Sam Presti.
While speaking to the public, Thunder general manager Sam Presti expressed his gratitude to the contributions of Paul George to the franchise, but he strongly denied that the decision to deal him was “mutual.”
“I think the world of PG. I think everybody knows that,” Presti said. “I know that he had used the term ‘mutual.’ I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that because that would infer that we were wanting to trade Paul George, which I think most people would agree that that probably wasn’t on the top of our offseason priority list. But I would say that it was not adversarial at all, and I also fully respect the way that it was handled. And the fact that we were able to make it work in a way that benefited the franchise made it something that we could do.”
Despite suffering another huge disappointment in the 2018-19 NBA season, Thunder general manager Sam Presti revealed that trading Paul George and Russell Westbrook wasn’t something they were considering when the 2019 NBA offseason officially started. The only plan the Thunder had this summer before George demanded a trade was to continue surrounding him and Westbrook with quality players that could help them fully dominate the Western Conference and contend for the NBA championship title.
Though Paul George’s trade request caught them off guard, the Thunder still managed to extract precious trade assets in their blockbuster trade with the Clippers. In the deal that sent George to Los Angeles, the Thunder acquired Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and multiple first-round picks. The combined trade assets the Thunder acquired from trading their two superstars will greatly help them in speeding up the rebuilding process in the post Russell-Westbrook era.