It was a wild night in the NBA. Kawhi and George ended up with the Clippers to from a genuine title contender, and the Thunder got an unprecedented return for Paul George. We didn’t think the package the Pelicans got for Davis would spend so little at the top of trade returns.
As Marc Stein reported, the Thunder got Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, three unprotected Clippers first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026), two firsts from Miami (2021 unprotected and 2023 protected 1-to-14) and the right to swap picks with the Clips in 2023 and 2025. This is a monster haul.
Kawhi gave us a lesson in assuming once again. Just because he is not loud and self-promoting on social media, doesn’t mean he isn’t proactive. He first contacted Durant about teaming up with him as a Clipper. KD was intrigued but decided to go to Brooklyn with his buddy Kyrie. Then Kawhi directed his attention to Paul George. The two players spoke, and Kawhi informed the Clippers he would join them if they bring PG in.
George talked to Sam Presti and requested a trade, and the request caught OKC entirely off guard. They signed Alec Burks and resigned Nerlens Noel, moves that are gearing up for the season to come. While OKC had a disappointing end to the season (third consecutive first-round exit), they still felt that a few changes to the roster could put them back in contention. Here’s how ESPN’s Royce Young described it:
“To say the Thunder were surprised is an understatement. They were completely blown away. It was like a dump truck drove right through their practice facility and dropped this news on their desk.”Royce Young, ESPN
They had to act quickly and did what they could. How did they do it? Divide and conquer. Sam Presti talked to the Clippers and the Raptors, having both teams upping the other team’s offer. We now know the package from the Clippers, but it was fascinating to find out what Presti asked for from the Raptors.
The deal would center around Pascal Siakam and draft picks, with a significant difference that he wanted the Raptors to take George AND Westbrook in the agreement. The Raptors engaged in talks, believing that getting George would convince Kawhi to stay in Toronto.
The Raptors were never in a position to match the Clippers with all the draft picks they got from the Griffin and Harris trades, but the added ask of Westbrook being in the trade was just too much for the Raptors.
Many believe Westbrook is more likely to be traded than not, but it remains to be seen who would be willing to pay one of the league’s worst three-point shooters on a supermax deal that would pay him $47 million in ’22/’23.