After losing NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder have taken steps to contend for a league title by obtaining Indiana small forward Paul George from the Indiana Pacers.
Oklahoma City struck a deal that sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers for George. George had been coveted by teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics but since he will become a free agent after next season, teams were unwilling to trade for what could be just one year. George has indicated he would prefer to sign with the Lakers next year but that is not set in stone. Also, the Thunder needed to part with some players to create cap space.
The Thunder took a chance on that scenario and wound up with a player that will team with NBA MVP Russell Westbrook to make a run at the title.
George (6-9, 220), 27, is a four-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA and three-time NBA All-Defensive Team honoree. George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season, including 39.3 percent from 3-point range and 46.1 percent overall from the field. George will make $19.5 million next season, with an option to make $20.7 million in the 2018-19 season.
George had refused to re-sign with the Pacers.
George is slated to make $19.5 million in the final guaranteed year of his contract. He has a player option for $20.7 million in 2018-19.
The Thunder traded Serge Ibaka to Orlando last year for Oladipo and Sabonis on draft day.
Oladipo signed an extension with the Thunder in November worth $84 million over four seasons. Oladipo averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 67 games for the Thunder.
Sabonis started 66 games for the Thunder as a rookie, averaging 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1 assist in 20.1 minutes per game.
All-star point guard Chris Paul left the Los Angeles Clippers for Houston but former Oklahoma Sooner Blake Griffin is sticking with the Clippers. Griffin and the Clippers agreed on a five-year, $173 million new contract. Griffin had previously told the Clippers he would opt out of his player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent.
Elsewhere, two-time MVP Stephen Curry and the NBA champion Golden State Warriors agreed to a five-year deal worth more than $200 million, the richest contract in NBA history. Curry is the first NBA star who will sign a supermax contract, the crossing of a $200 million threshold.
Durant, also a free agent, plans to wait until after the team completes most of its summer business before re-signing with the Warriors.
Published reports say Durant agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth about $53 million to remain with the Golden State Warriors. The deal calls for about $25 million in the first year with a player option for the second season.
The official signing date was July 6.