NBA Trade Grades: Paul George is going to the Oklahoma City Thunder

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 12: Paul George /

We have another trade before free agency and it’s a big one: Paul George is going to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and we’ve got grades for Oklahoma City and the Indiana Pacers.

The 2017 NBA offseason is only getting crazier. Earlier this week, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets for a massive return. Friday evening, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio was traded to the Utah Jazz to free up cap space to hopefully sign former Indiana Pacers point guard Jeff Teague. Now Pacers small forward Paul George is going to … the Oklahoma City Thunder?

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne first broke the news that George was going to Oklahoma City. USA TODAY’s Sam Amick reported that Thunder shooting guard Victor Oladipo and power forward Domantas Sabonis would be the two pieces going to Indianapolis in exchange for George.

Here is what the trade looked like on Friday night between the two teams.

Thunder Get
Paul George
Pacers Get
Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis

Oklahoma City Thunder

For the Thunder, this is a huge, blockbuster-type trade for the team. George gives the Thunder arguably the next best thing to what they lost in Kevin Durant in free agency last summer. George will play small forward next to Westbrook, and adding him immediately makes the Thunder the favorite to win the Northwest Division next season.

It’s a short-term deal for the Thunder, as George will be on the last year of his contract initially signed with the Pacers. He has expressed great interest in playing for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 NBA free agency. George played his college ball at Fresno State and idolized Lakers star shooting guard Kobe Bryant as a youth.

Oklahoma City is not as attractive of a metropolis as Los Angeles, but do keep in mind that Westbrook is also a native Angelino. These two may have had ideas of playing together in the coming future.

Overall, it’s hard to say that the Thunder are better with George than they would have been with Durant. However, this team can honestly be a challenger in the Western Conference to Durant’s Golden State Warriors in 2017-18. Worst case scenario, the Thunder can win a playoff series and take a superior team to six or seven games in the conference semifinals. It’s worth it to get a superstar for a year.

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers

Greater Indianapolis has to accept that the Pacers are no longer going to be a playoff team. Losing George stinks, but he did the right thing by telling former team president Larry Bird that he was going to leave the team in 2018 NBA free agency. Getting anything for George would have been a plus knowing that the Pacers were just going to lose him anyway.

It only took two younger players to pry George away from Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard’s kung fu grip. The Boston Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not making the move to trade for George. Apparently all of Danny Ainge’s draft picks just aren’t that valuable, as they are just future 19-year-olds that need serious coaching.

The two players that Indiana gets, Oladipo and Sabonis, only help get their rebuild under way. Oladipo will be a fan favorite in Indianapolis, as he starred for Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers in the Big Ten in college. He’s a solid NBA combo guard that can play with pace offensively and hold his own on the defensive end of the floor. However, jump shooting isn’t exactly his forte and limits his overall ceiling as a professional.

As for Sabonis, he is a huge get for the Pacers. He will rebound at a high level in the NBA. Sabonis starred for Mark Few in Gonzaga for two years before going pro last summer. Keep in mind that Sabonis is the son of Lithuanian basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis. If he’s half the passer of his dad, Sabonis could form a magnificent frontcourt tandem with Myles Turner for years.

Next: NBA Free Agency Tracker 2017

Overall, the Pacers took the two most interesting young players on the Thunder roster in exchange for George. Oladipo will be entertaining in the short-term, but Sabonis is the real get in this trade. Losing George is not fun, but Pritchard got two rotational players for him in the last year of his contract.

Grade: B