Paul George re-signing leads to celebration and jubilation: chronological journey of past year

Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Just short of the two-year anniversary of KD’s departure, Paul George and Jerami Grant decided to re-up. Was it the right decision? The answer is yes.

They said the OKC Thunder was doomed after Kevin Durant departed. It was said no one wanted to play with Russell Westbrook. They said Paul George was destined to be a Laker. It was said no big name Free Agent would ever choose to play or stay in Oklahoma City. And, they said the OKC Thunder ownership group is cheap.

On June 30th, 2018, all the above statements were proven wrong. George stayed, as did Jerami Grant. Both players are going to be playing alongside Westbrook, and the ownership group will pay a near $300 million in combined salary and tax penalties.

How did this all come together? Let’s review the variables below:

Ahead From the start

George already had a strong relationship within the OKC Thunder organization before he even put on a Thunder jersey.  However, it was not with Westbrook or another player at all for the matter.

It was with Thunder head athletic trainer Joe Sharpe. Sharpe is the head athletic trainer for team USA and was the first person by George’s side when he suffered his horrific leg injury in 2013.

"George: “I tried to get up almost like in a sit-up position to look at my leg, and he pushed me back down,” George told NBA TV in 2014. “He told me ‘Everything’s going to be OK. Don’t look at it. You’re going to get through it. Just stay strong.’”“The person that really helped me was the (Oklahoma City) Thunder’s trainer (Joe Sharpe).”"

Quote Courtesy of Oklahoman

Players form relationships with more than just their teammates and coaching staff. The relationship George formed with Sharpe cannot and should not be underestimated.

Revamped OKC Thunder Ownership Group

Since the Thunder dealt James Harden away after not wanting to give him a now infamous extra $5 million to bring him up to the max, a few variables have changed. Foremost, had the team given Harden the max it would have put the team into the tax very early in Harden, Westbrook, and Durant’s careers. Putting them in a financial bind similar to the one they are in now only much earlier.

The team’s plan was always to go into the luxury tax once Durant and Westbrook entered their primes. The plan never changed, George was just inserted into the spot Durant would have occupied.

Furthermore, the ownership group has changed since the team shipped out Harden. Most noteworthy George B. Kaiser came aboard in April 2014, nearly two after the OKC Thunder traded Harden.

Why is Kaiser significant? Because he’s a billionaire, according to Forbes Kaiser is the 198th richest person in the world. Having someone of that stature on the ownership group will help soften the blow of such an enormous payroll.

Large markets no longer reign supreme

The five teams in the largest NBA markets are the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Nets, and Bulls only one of those teams were seriously linked to a marquee free agent(s). Yet, as the hour’s tic past one free agent (George) is already off the market and another LeBron James (as of this writing) had yet to announce.

I will continue to harp on the fact technology and social media have both changed the sports landscape. Due to those two factors, the playing field has been somewhat leveled. It’s no longer required to play in a large market to have exposure. Any player can be a global superstar regardless if they play for the OKC Thunder or the Los Angeles Lakers.

The biggest piece of evidence is George did not even take a meeting with the Lakers or any other team for that matter. This came after the summer of 2015 when the Lakers essentially had to beg LaMarcus Aldridge to take the second meeting with them.

In 2015 the Lakers pitch to Aldridge focused too much on “outside opportunities” and not enough basketball via an S&B Nation report. Now when trying to attract free agents it appears the Lakers rely too heavily on their name and storied history, over the current basketball outlook. Perhaps, the Lakers should consider changing their whole recruiting pitch, because bright lights and tampering are not getting them far.

Best Tweets from the night

This was the Woj Bomb all of Thunder Nation was collectively waiting for. The fan base had been on pins and needles about PG’s decision since he was acquired from Indiana one year ago.

It would have been satisfying enough for Paul to merely sign, the fact it’s a four-year deal is ice cream to go with the cake.

Financial Security

National media members were clearly shocked George decided to stay in small-market Oklahoma City, rather than take his talents to LA or elsewhere. The only part that is slightly shocking is the length of the deal.

There are three different reasons George likely went the route he did, one financial security. George has had one severe injury, plus he just had offseason surgery on his elbow and knee. Rather than take a risk with a short-term contract George opted for the most financially sound route.

Two, George is 100 percent committed to the Thunder and Westbrook and wanted to show the team and his teammates his level of commitment by signing long-term.

Or three, it could potentially be a combination of the two above theories. Either way, George is on board and here to stay for the long haul.

Listening can provide clues

Every time an executive, player, or coach speaks it is not always a spin show. Sometimes they can offer tidbits on what is going on, George, Sam Presti, and Westbrook all left tidbits, yet everyone was either too foolish or scared to listen.

Let it serve as a lesson everything must be taken for what it is, it’s not all lies, it’s not all truth, they’re comments that must be sorted through.

This certainly was fun

365 days later…

The Thunder’s ‘Do it All’ guy returns

Grant returning is no small achievement for the OKC Thunder. Presti informed everyone after the draft George was the teams top-priority, Grant was also a high priority.

Competing for titles starts with superstars and the Thunder have two locked-in for the rest of their primes. However, true contention relies upon how good the supporting cast is, retaining Grant is the first step in building up the supporting pieces.

More tidbits

The fact the OKC Thunder were willing to pay Grant did not surprise me. As Royce Young mentioned in a radio interview if George were to re-sign, it would make Grant re-signing as well more likely.

Rest easy Oklahoma you deserve this

There are numerous peaks and valleys in the world of sports. Durant leaving was the largest valley, Westbrook re-signing was the highest peak. Yet, George following in Russ’ footsteps may overtake the title of the highest peak. Perhaps, Russ and PG’s decisions can rank as 1A, 1B situation in this instance.

Straight from the man himself

In George’s three-part documentary he said it felt like there was “unfinished business” in Oklahoma City. Now, he and Russ will have a minimum of three years to finish said business.

Best Instagram posts from the night

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic /

Ray throws some shade

Russ, PG, and Nas all light it up

Hidden messages and phrase in artwork

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic /
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic /

Old social media posts are relevant once more

I have a strong suspicion most Thunder Fans were crying tears of joy when the PG news dropped.

First Impressions are EVERYTHING!

One fan who greeted George at the airport belted out “First impressions are EVERYTHING”, he was so loud he could easily be heard over the large crowd. As things turn our first impressions are indeed everything.

Presented without comment

I couldn’t resist adding at least a little shade. This wasn’t very comical at the time, but it will likely provide a few laughs now.

PG decided to stay OK

Grant essentially told everyone what was going down

*Skip to the 1:45 mark of the video.

Please refrain from throwing shade

More from Thunderous Intentions

Here’s the deal Thunder Nation, while it’s fun to throw shade at the Lakers we know all too well how it feels to lose a superstar. The feeling is the same when you lose out on signing a superstar.

Lakers Nation is hurting because our joy is their pain. The NBA is a business and losing out on free agents is part of the harsh reality in the league. Celebrate retaining George, but try to keep the shade to a minimum.

Besides there is a great chance the Lakers will still get LeBron James.

Time for a new declaration?

On August, 4th, 2016 after Westbrook renegotiated and extended his contract Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett declared the day “Russell Westbrook Day”.

Then on September, 29th, 2017 when Westbrook extended his contract once more signing a five-year super max making Westbrook the highest paid player in league history Cornett made another declaration. Making every day “Russell Westbrook Day”.

It’s time for new mayor David Holt to make his own Declaration, making every June, 30th from here on “Paul George Day”. It’s completely fitting considering George arrived on June, 30th, 2017 and committed on June, 30th.

Next: Complete NBA Free Agency primer for all 30 teams

In closing, this is a time for celebration and jubilation as George and Grant both stayed. Congratulations Oklahoma City, you are officially a big league city, regardless of what the critics think.