Paul George talked to Sam Amick of USA Today about the superstar trio suddenly in place in Oklahoma City now that the Thunder have agreed to a trade to acquire Carmelo Anthony. It’s not all that super clear how Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony will fit together in a game that only allows one ball, but George doesn’t sound too worried about it:
“This feels like a championship team,” George told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m in a good place. I know Russ (Westbrook) is in a good place. Melo is motivated more than ever…You put us three together, who all have something to prove still, (and) we’re going to be a special team. We have a young group, a lot of talent here, an unbelievable coach (in Billy Donovan), (and) as you see, a front office that’s willing to do whatever it takes to improve the team. It just has all the makeups to be a great organization and a chance to put championships together.”
Apart from all this enthusiasm potentially being a great sign for Thunder fans who are hoping this season won’t be the last good one before a painful and extended rebuild, George’s comments reflect the frustration he felt as a member of the Indiana Pacers, during the team’s slide from Eastern Conference contender to the not-all-that-frisky also-ran that George seemed to basically hate.
George’s praise for his new situation in OKC is loaded with not-all-that-subtle commentary on the organization he just departed (emphasis mine):
“I’m real excited,” he said. “It just goes to show how a small market can stay aggressive in the trade place, and can really do whatever it needs to do for the players’ sake to give them the best chance to win, man. It’s pretty impressive that Oklahoma has now three superstars, and gave this state a legitimate chance to win a championship.
“The most beautiful thing about it is this organization, all their players know what’s going on. There’s nothing under the table. There’s nothing hidden since I’ve been here so far. So I was aware of what was going on. I was extremely happy. I was pushing for this opportunity to play with (Anthony). I’m extremely happy…The first year I get here, we already have three superstars on the team. It just goes to show what’s possible with different organizations.”
It’s harsh, but not necessarily unfair. In the time since the Thunder lost Kevin Durant, one of the two or three best basketball players on the planet, they’ve turned Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter, and a draft pick into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, and brought in the criminally underrated Patrick Patterson on a value contract. Whatever you think of the new-look Thunder, that’s an incredibly impressive retooling. They took a chance on Paul George, then used his acquisition as bait to convince Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause. Being nimble and aggressive has put them in position to contend—if nothing else, they’ve demonstrated a willingness to swing for the fences, and George, at least, is impressed.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have Myles Turner and a sincere hope that Victor Oladipo will be worth even half of his $84 million contract. They’re staring at exactly the painful rebuild the Thunder just gave themselves their best chance at avoiding. Some organizations really are better at this than others.