Two things come to mind with the addition of Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder family. Will he give the team on Reno Street what is needed to make it viable enough to challenge the Golden State Warriors in the 2017-18 season? And will his presence in Oklahoma City be a positive or a negative in the Russell Westbrook saga in adding additional years to his stay in OKC. Or will it, in the long of it, enhance the super-star to look at a move with George to the Los Angeles Lakers next summer (as both will be unrestricted free agents).
Paul George gives the Thunder two top players in the NBA. The added scoring machine in the former Pacer will allow the offense in Oklahoma City to avoid double teams when George and Westbrook are on one side of the court. Also, the added short shot game of Steven Adams will improve as spacing away from the basket will improve dramatically. No more packing the lane when George is fifteen to twenty three feet from the hoop as the 6’9 all-star from the Eastern Conference can knock down the longer shots. With an addition of Patrick Patterson (from Toranto), a 6’9 power forward that OKC signed this week, another versatile post player that can knock down the three, to go along with Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott, the Thunder will have more options for Westbrook to drive and dish than ever before. The offense will change in 2017 for the better.
Can General Manager Sam Presti wait out Russell Westbrook’s decision to extend his contract (five years, approx. $219 million) for will he pull the trigger on him and George before or during the 2017 season? Good money in my bank says Presti will give Westbrook time, probably through the trade deadline in February 2018, but if by that time Westbrook has not signed the max contract (which would begin in the summer 2017), the main man in OKC would be traded. In February, OKC might be in a close fight for a top seed in the Western Conference and the Thunder’s chances of challenging for a NBA Western Finals appearance a strong possibility. Westbrook, and George for that matter, could made a decision to stay in OKC and sign new contracts. Or the Thunder’s addition of George might be a bust, and both super-stars see that the OKC team is not working. Only time will tell and that is why Presti’s best bet is to wait and see. A loss of Westbrook and the Thunder franchise starts all over, with Adams, Roberson and others looking for a less than bright future.
Best guess is that Westbrook will wait, George will also, and Presti will not make a move on either until the Thunder know what they have. It is also still possible for Westbrook to sign this summer for the maximum extension. But I would not sitting around hoping if I was a Thunder fan. The decisions are major and right now the time to make them is not an issue.
Feature Photo found at: https://www.sportsinsights.com/blog/nba-trade-impact-paul-george-to-the-oklahoma-city-thunder/