Still Getting Used to the Paul George Trade

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JULY 12: Paul George
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JULY 12: Paul George /

Still weird. Those are the words that come to mind when friends ask me what I think of the Paul George trade.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m super excited to have Paul George on the team. The fact that Sam Presti was able to execute a trade of this magnitude a few months after the season of Russell Westbrook is nothing short of remarkable. Last season, while we as fans witnessed some amazing feats, was exhausting to watch.

Each outcome was based on whether Westbrook made the shot – something he did more times than not. That was not a winning formula, prompting his detractors to voice their opinions whenever they felt compelled. I, personally, found myself defending Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder a lot.

Then the Paul George trade happened. The moment I discovered the transaction, I was equal parts ecstatic and worried. I was mostly worried about whom it was Presti gave up adding a top-ten player to the roster. Teams don’t usually acquire a player of Paul George’s caliber without giving up a piece in whom they’ve invested quite a bit of money.

That leaves only a few players on the Thunder’s roster who meet the “quite a bit of money” qualifications. When the smoke cleared, I became privy to all the details of the trade. I can admit I had taken to having Victor Oladipo on the team, but if losing him meant getting back to contention, c’est la vie.

Season ends with Russ still fighting:

After everything that last season represented, it felt great to have some retribution.

I’ll never forget Westbrook in the final minutes of Game 5 against the Houston Rockets. He looked spent, it was an eerie thing to see. NBA fans tend to take the MVP’s motor for granted. He just goes and goes and goes, seemingly without needing a second to breathe (except for when he’s at the free throw line). At that moment, however, when everything had come to a head in what would end as a first round exit, Russell still tried to go.

Russ ended with a total of 47 points as he kept fighting until the end – he was exhausted.  The Russell hustle was finally done. After carrying this Thunder team as far as he could, Russ had given everything he had. The only thing left to was to prepare to do it all over again.

OKC Thunder
HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 25: OKC Thunder #0  Russell Westbrookf drives  basket vs  Rockets  Game 5 of  WC quarter finals f  2017 NBA Playoffs  Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

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Presti retools with Paul George trade:

Fortunately for Russ and the team, the front office “rolled up their sleeves” and went to work retooling the roster. Presti and Co. ushered in a new era of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball almost overnight via the Paul George trade. The haste in which it happened is the reason that I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it all. I should be fortunate that I don’t have to suffer through another year of internal development, yet I can’t shake my feelings of bewilderment.

I honestly have no idea what to expect. Will the team have chemistry? Am I allowed to get attached to this team, or will Presti pull the rug out from under me again with another bold move?

For longtime Thunder fans, this version of the Thunder is like something out of a trade machine. For years, we have grown accustomed to the team operating in a cyclical manner, never deviating from the familiar path. This squad is nothing like we’re used to. Sam’s off-book summer is a lesson in cognitive dissonance. Nothing Sam has ever said about how he and the front office look to make the team better could have prepared me for this offseason.