When Paul George was traded to Oklahoma City from Indiana this past summer—in a deal that sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers—the trade was quickly decried as a rip-off. How could the Thunder have gotten PG-13 for so little?
Oladipo, however, is an All-Star this year, and George isn’t. Oladipo is having a career-best year. George isn’t have a bad year, but he has certainly taken a backseat as he has joined the Thunder and began playing alongside guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook vouched for his new teammate Wednesday, throwing shade at other players in the West (such as the Warriors and Damian Lillard) while stating his belief that George should have made the All-Star team. Westbrook called it “unbelievable.”
Paul George had an interesting reaction to Westbrook’s comments. He said it was “awesome” and that Westbrook is making his free-agency decision “easier.”
“Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has],” George explained. “A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate’s back.”
George went on to say, “The fact Russ had my back, that’s my guy forever, and it’s more apparent what this decision needs to be made when it comes down to it.”
Westbrook was asked about George’s comments Thursday.
“Like I’ve said before many times, around here my job is to make sure I lead and it’s not about basketball, it’s not about what you do on the court, but it’s about how you interact with your teammates, your brothers off the floor,” Westbrook said. “And that’s the most important thing to me is to be in a good relationship with people. Basketball and stuff that will come, that’s short term, but brotherhood and friends, stuff like that is lifetime.
“And for me I constantly keeping to find ways to learn different things about people, learn about their families, learn about their struggles, their journey, everybody has a different outlook on different things, and you’re able to create those relationships obviously by being on the same team and understanding each other.”
This is all surprising, of course, because it was widely assumed that George would sign with a new team—maybe in *coughs* Los Angeles?—this offseason. Now it looks like Oklahoma City is at the very least a real contender to hold onto George’s services in the future. Good news, Thunder fans.