Operating blind, the Thunder aren’t blinking.
Ask any rival executive who has come calling for George, who thought the Thunder’s inconsistent season might prompt Presti to trade George for fear he might lose another transcendent talent for nothing, and you hear the same word: untouchable.
None of this is surprising.
Russell Westbrook can’t legally be traded, because he’s within a year of signing a designated-veteran-player extension. Steven Adams’ dirty work is too important to the Thunder. Carmelo Anthony’s no-trade clause would make it extremely difficult to get worthwhile return, if he’d even waive it at all.
All three are under contract for next season, making it less urgent to move one. Perhaps, Oklahoma City would have looked to get ahead of impending luxury-tax concerns or balance the roster, especially after Andre Roberson‘s injury. Alas not.
But George is a special case, because he can leave with no return this summer.
The Clippers reportedly called about Blake Griffin for George, and the Thunder could probably draw even better George offers if they earnestly explored the market. But Oklahoma City is also trying to win this season and showing promise specifically because of George’s two-way excellence. The Thunder must weigh the odds of re-signing with what they could get for him before tomorrow’s trade deadline.
What’s abundantly clear: George enjoys playing for the Thunder right now. I believe he would have played out the season with the Pacers if they kept him, but I’m also convinced he was trying to hasten his exit from Indiana when he informed the team of his 2018 plan. It seems he wants to spend the rest of this season in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder will oblige, but the looming question remains: Will he justify that faith by helping them advance in the playoffs and/or re-signing next summer?