Sam Presti’s Thunder, The Ultimate Winners of the Paul George Exchange

NBA – More than four years after this exchange, Sam Presti’s Thunder can savor the exchange of Paul George. Especially since he will continue to reap the benefits for a few years.

Sam Presti is a patient man, who sees very, very far. In July 2019, following the arrival of Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers, the Oklahoma City GM thus sends Paul George in Los Angeles. By the GM’s admission, it wasn’t really his initial plan, especially since the guard/winger had extended his contract with the Thunder the summer before.

“PG-13” is coming off an exceptional season in OKC, undoubtedly the best of his career on an individual level. With his 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals on average, he was elected to the All-NBA First Team but also the All-Defensive First Team, finishing in 3rd place in the votes for the best defender trophy, behind Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo. But also in 3rd place in the votes for the MVP trophy, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden…

At 29 years old, his value is at its peak, and with three years left on his contract, the Clippers will have to strip down to associate him with Kawhi Leonard, taking advantage of Russell Westbrook’s desires elsewhere. What they are going to do.

A “first round” mountain

Los Angeles will thus release a multitude of “first round” Drafts and “swaps” to validate the arrival of its duo: four unprotected first rounds (2021, 2022, 2024 and 2026), one protected first round (2023) and the possibility of exchanging two first rounds (in 2023 and 2025)! As well as Danilo Gallinari et Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Nearly four years later, it is first of all the latter, now a very credible candidate for the title of MVP, leader of an Oklahoma City team in 2nd place in the West, which means that the Thunder can savor this exchange.

“We knew Shai was going to be very, very good, but he is special” recognizes Paul George at ESPNahead of the meeting between the Thunder and the Clippers this evening. “So I guess, in a sense, Oklahoma won this trade with all these draft picks and a future MVP.”

Doc Rivers, then coach of Los Angeles, assures that he had nevertheless warned Kawhi Leonard.

“I even talked to Kawhi about it: ‘Are you sure?’ » promises to have explained the coach to “The Klaw”, when the latter linked his arrival to the Clippers to that of Paul George. “’I think Shai is going to be an incredible player. It might take a year or two, but I think you’re underestimating what Shai is going to become.’ I didn’t argue, but I brought up the subject. I was wondering if there was a way to do this exchange without including Shai. »

Jalen Williams, the hidden bonus

Probably not, even though Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was only a promising rookie, starting with the Clippers who were rebuilding after the departures of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

But the Canadian is not the only gem recovered thanks to this exchange. It was with a first round from the Clippers (the 12th choice in 2022) that the club was able to get its hands on Jalen Williamswho has established himself as SGA’s first lieutenant in Oklahoma, progressing almost every month since his arrival in the league!

“I think this exchange worked for both sides” assure le sophomore. “Both franchises are probably very happy with where they are right now. Plus, they also have James Harden now…That’s what makes the NBA fun.”

With a difference, all the same. The Clippers’ window can in fact close very quickly, while the Thunder have only just opened theirs, and can count on multiple “first rounders” to continue to open it, again thanks to the Paul George trade. In 2025, Oklahoma City will be able to exchange its “first round” of the Draft with that of the Clippers, if it is more advantageous. Sam Presti will also be able to do the same thing in 2027. And the Thunder will also have the Heat’s 2025 “first round” (protected 1-14) as well as the Clippers’ 2026 Draft “first round”, if it is more favorable that his and that of the Rockets…

2024-02-22 15:30:35
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