Paul George has been the subject of NBA trade rumors these past few weeks. Much of the reason for the noise is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s ongoing struggles to win and build chemistry on the court.
The Thunder had split their last six games, with their latest one resulting in a 111-96 loss to the New York Knicks in Carmelo Anthony’s homecoming at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. They are now eighth in the West with a 14-15 slate, only a half-game ahead of ninth-place squad Utah Jazz and also a half-game behind the New Orleans Pelicans.
For a team that was expected to challenge the defending champions Golden State Warriors before the season began, what they have done so far is indeed an underachievement.
Some analysts believe that it is still too early in the season to tell whether OKC’s Big Three trial had failed. However, there are others who are already worried that it might have. For instance, Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard.
Broussard said that he is giving the Thunder until early January before the club tries to offer George to interested teams. He said that if the trio of George, Anthony, and Russell Westbrook are “still looking bad” by then, then trading George would become a “real possibility.”
Broussard also noted George’s apparent discontent with the Thunder, saying that the former NBA Most Improved Player “does not look happy at all.”
Broussard then mentioned that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers as potential landing spots should the Thunder finally decide to trade George.
George had previously expressed his desire to join the Lakers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. There are no indications that he is changing his mind with all the losing that is happening in Oklahoma City.
Lakers president Magic Johnson had also been vocal about his wish to sign George next year.
The NBA fined the Lakers $500,000 in August after allegedly violating the league’s tampering rules. Johnson said to have communicated his desire to acquire George too much both to the player and the media, which was enough for the NBA to reach that verdict.
With the obvious mutual interest from both sides, it would be best for the Thunder to trade George sooner than to risk losing him for nothing in the summer.
George has made it crystal clear ever since he was a Pacer: He will opt out of his deal next year and he prefers playing for the Lakers. The Pacers simply did what the Thunder ought to do right now, trade him.
Trading George to the Lakers is the better deal for OKC because of the Hollywood squad’s surplus of young talents. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are rumored to be available. They can even ask for rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma, and there is still a big chance that the Lakers would give just to get the superstar player they have lacked since Kobe Bryant retired.
However, a trade with the Cavaliers might be more realistic, not only because LeBron James himself reportedly recruited George “aggressively” during the past offseason, but since the Lakers know that they do not have to lose any of their young assets to get George, according to Cavaliers Nation.
All the Lakers have to do is wait for free agency and make sure that George will have more reasons to join them other than only wanting to play for his hometown squad.