The trade ends weeks of speculation regarding George, the 27-year-old forward who had committed to playing with the Pacers through the 2017-18 season but said he would become a free agent next offseason and preferred to join the Los Angeles Lakers. George is from Southern California.
But the Thunder won out on the George sweepstakes, a move that no doubt leaves reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook happy and shifts another star player from the Eastern Conference to the West. The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls on draft night.
Las Vegas immediately took note of Friday night’s blockbuster. Oklahoma City’s odds to win the 2017-18 NBA title went from 80-1 to 40-1, according to the Westgate Las Vegas.
As for the East, the move solidifies the Cavaliers as the class of the conference.
“The East continues to get worse,” a source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
There was a belief by the Cavaliers that Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, when it came down to pulling the trigger on a George deal, felt more comfortable shipping him to a Western Conference team rather than an East rival — the Celtics and Cleveland both made countless inquiries — eliminating a potential roadblock as the Pacers begin a rebuild.
Meanwhile, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that the Celtics offered three first-round picks — they did not include the Brooklyn Nets‘ pick in 2018 or the Los Angeles Lakers/Sacramento Kings pick — and two starters (Jae Crowder being one) for George on draft night but were rejected.
The Thunder were last in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage last season (32.7). George shot 39.3 percent in 2016-17, which would’ve ranked first on OKC (minimum five attempts).