Paul George and Carmelo Anthony’s arrival in Oklahoma City, combined with the contract extension Russell Westbrook signed last summer, ushered in a similar level of optimism the Steve Nash and Dwight Howard acquisitions gave Laker fans only a few years ago.
Then, Nash broke his leg, Howard was never the same kind of explosive athlete the Lakers thought they were getting and the season ended in the crumpled heap that Kobe Bryant became when his achilles ruptured. That offseason, Howard bolted for the Houston Rockets, netting the Lakers nothing in return.
Monday morning quarterbacks began wondering aloud whether the Lakers should have traded Howard at the deadline rather than risk losing him for nothing. It wasn’t like he ever developed the kind of chemistry with Kobe Bryant that might keep him long-term, so why not flip him for something they could keep building with once that disappointing season came to a merciful end?
Well, similar whispers are starting to swirl around the Thunder as they hover around .500 and George, Westbrook and Anthony can’t seem to figure out how to share the basketball. According to Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger, Sam Presti is ignoring those whispers.
According to a league source with knowledge of the team’s thinking, the Thunder were under no delusions that George was committing to anything beyond this season when they shipped Oladipo and Sabonis—products of the Serge Ibaka trade with Orlando—to Indiana for the four-time All-Star. Furthermore, the source said, the team has shown no inclination to entertain trade discussions.
It’s still early enough in the season that it makes sense the Thunder would want to see more. If a trade does ever wind up coming to fruition, it wouldn’t be until right up to the trade deadline in February.
The other issue that will undoubtedly play a factor and is a major difference between the Lakers’ situation with Howard and the Thunder’s with George is the latter’s well-known interest in eventually becoming a Laker. Howard had no such public preference.
George wanting to come to the Lakers probably severely hampers the Thunder’s chances of landing fair value in a trade. If you ran an NBA team, would you offer anything of value for a few months of Paul George, knowing he’ll probably leave for the Lakers this summer, anyway?
Still, one team might think the risk is worthwhile.