Last summer, Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti went all-in acquiring Paul George from the Pacers, in a move to get Russell Westbrook to re-sign (it worked) and make the Thunder a contender again (not sure about that one yet).
With the trade deadline approaching, both teams could bail on those plans, trade their stars for pennies on the dollar, and start their next phase building around the star they have locked up.
Neither team plans to do that — the Thunder are keeping George, and the Pelicans are keeping Cousins, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
For now, the Thunder are fully committed to playing out the season with impending free agent Paul George. They still have hope that a strong run in the playoffs could convince him to re-sign in Oklahoma City….
So far, New Orleans is determined to re-sign center DeMarcus Cousins and hasn’t invited trade offers on him.
If you want big names not going anywhere at the deadline, Marc Gasol in Memphis may need an invite to the party.
Teams are curious to study Memphis’ plans with center Marc Gasol, but so far, the Grizzlies say they’re planning to keep him.
For the Thunder, the team’s play has improved of late, guys are accepting their roles (we’re looking at you, Carmelo Anthony), and they look like a team that can make the second round of the playoffs. Then they likely run into the Warriors. Is that enough to keep George? The Pacers and other teams were told last summer he wanted to be a Laker when he was a free agent in 2018, but as George looks at that struggling team and the LaVar-induced circus around it, is the draw of home the same? Oklahoma City is not backing off its plans now, they want to keep him. Although if George wants to stay (at a max salary) and Carmelo Anthony does the expected and opts into his $28 million (and Russell Westbrook is already maxed out), this is a small market team headed deep into the luxury tax. We’ll see what kind of stomach ownership has for that tax.
The Pelicans want desperately to make the playoffs this season, keeping Cousins — who is having a fantastic year — is the only way they do that. New Orleans is currently the eight seed in the West, 2.5 games up on the L.A. Clippers.
Memphis fired their coach in a futile effort turn their season around, and the injury to Mike Conley (and, I supposed, Chandler Parsons, but we all expected that one) has certainly kept them down. We can debate whether getting the band back together in Memphis is really a good idea, but ownership doesn’t seem ready to trade Gasol and move on yet.