Views from OKC is a public diary from a bias but reasonable OKC Thunder fan. Today we address the Paul George, Los Angeles Lakers situation.
If you haven’t heard by now, the NBA is investigating Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers for possibly tampering with Paul George’s upcoming free agency.
This is big news. The possible punishments range anywhere from lost draft picks to outright forbidding the Lakers to sign George next offseason. We know players prematurely recruit as much as they want – just ask the Warriors – but once team executives get involved the league gets serious.
That’s exactly why Sam Presti and the Thunder gambled and traded for one year of George’s services.
PG has been on Oklahoma City’s radar for quite some time – they see him as the perfect compliment to Russell Westbrook. George clearly wants to compete for championships and the Thunder clearly want to win one to spite Kevin Durant. Outside of basketball, OKC provides George with the “country feel” he grew up in (FISHING) plus a passionate fanbase. I could continue, but you get the point: this partnership makes sense.
Presti was well aware of these factors when trading for George. In fact it’s why it made such a big risk an easy decision.
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Oklahoma City has leverage over every other team in the league – including the Lakers – because they can legally tamper with his recruitment as much as they please. Unlike Magic, Presti can discuss George’s future plans with no hesitation. Sam Presti didn’t trade for one year of Paul George, he traded for one year of recruiting Paul George.
If the Thunder didn’t acquire George via trade they still would have made a push for him in free agency. Their pitch just wouldn’t nearly be as strong as it is now. PG will have his favorite fishing spots around town, will befriend his fellow Thunder teammates. The everyday life stuff matters for these players, and that’s what OKC bet on by making the trade.
If the Lakers are in fact found guilty and not able to sign George, the Thunder immediately become the #1 contender. Even if the Lakers are in the running, OKC still has a very realistic chance of bringing Paul George back. Before July 1st that statement would be asinine.
That’s the power a year can make.