As Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were seeing their dream of playing together come true the earth, literally in southern California and figuratively in Oklahoma, started shaking.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski the Thunder All-Star forward and Leonard, searching for a new deal in free agency, got together on a plan that would put them on the same team in their home territory. PG is under contract with the Thunder for this coming season and next season with a player option for the 2021-22 season so a trade would have to be the way to go.
Woj posted all those details early Saturday morning...all of this happening on the day before the first anniversary of "Paul George Day" in Oklahoma City....
Thunder fans were rocked when Kevin Durant abandoned OKC for the Golden State Warriors and now they woke up on Saturday to the news that another superstar was doing doing almost the same thing. This time at least Paul George isn't joining a ready-made championship squad that had just knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs and he's moving back home. Plus OKC is getting a boat load of players and draft picks in return.
Remember former Thunder assistant GM Michael Winger is now the GM for the Clippers so he and Sam Presti have a long relationship.
According to Wojnarowski the Clips are sending forward Danilo Gallinari, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, four unprotected 1st round draft picks and a couple of pick swaps to the Thunder.
League sources told Wojnarowski the Clipper first round picks are their unprotected 2022, 2024 and 2026 choices, their unprotected 2021 and protected 2023 first-round picks via Miami, and the rights to swap picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025. It is a huge haul for the future, though if the Clippers become championship caliber those picks would come late in the first round.
Still, the shear number of first round picks is staggering.
As for the present...Gallinari has averaged 15.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game for his career while hitting 37.6% on threes...last season with LA he averaged 19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds...43.3% from three and 90% on free throws. At least for now he will become OKC's starting small forward. He's been a quality offensive player his entire career, defensively he's obviously not nearly as good as Paul George.
Gallinari is heading into the last year of a contract that will pay him $22.6 million...so with an expiring contract Gallinari could also be traded somewhere else.
Gilgeous-Alexander was the 11th pick in last year's draft, chosen by the Hornets then traded to the Clippers. in his rookie season he played in all 82 games averaging 10.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He was a 47.6% shooter overall and made 36.7% of his threes. He also hit 80% of his free throws. He's heading into the second year of his rookie deal and will make $3.9 million. He was used mostly as a point guard last season and his acquisition could to lead to trading away Dennis Schroder and his $15.5 million salary.
So now Sam Presti begins work again on reshaping the Thunder franchise. At least this time around he has a lot of assets to work with going forward. The big question is does he now begin shopping Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams (who's already been shopped around some) and begin a total rebuild? Or does he use some of those draft picks, maybe paired with Gallinari to bring in another big time player and go with a new version of the Big Three?
As you would expect the Twitterverse has been on fire since early Saturday...
And there was this from PG himself on the sure to be questions about whether he and Russ truly got along...
Oh and by the way the Thunder Summer League team is schedule to play today at 2pm on NBA-TV. Though things could change since Las Vegas was also rocked by those big earthquakes in LA and a summer league game was cancelled.