In a stunning move that came out of absolutely nowhere, the Oklahoma City Thunder have traded for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. For weeks, we’ve known that George’s time in Indiana was drawing to a close, but no one even knew the Thunder were on the market for a player like that. In the trade, George will go to Oklahoma City while Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis will head to Indiana. All along, the Pacers craved young talent, and Sabonis fits that build. Still, it’s shocking that Indiana pulled the trigger so soon and to a team that nobody had on their radar.
What this trade does is shake up the landscape of the entire free agency picture. Boston wanted to trade for George if they signed Gordon Hayward, while the Cleveland Cavaliers still thought they might have a chance at him through a third team like Denver. The Wizards had been rumored for George as well, possibly dangling a young piece like Otto Porter Jr., and while Houston probably had the least to offer, it was reported that they also wanted to deal for the beleaguered star in Indiana. Instead, Oklahoma City struck first — hours before free agency officially begins — and have George on a one-year deal to pair with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. For Westbrook, who only has one year left on his contract, it’s an all-out gamble by Thunder general manager Sam Presti and his front office. If they lose Westbrook, they’re at least going down with the ship.