The NBA is just as interesting for the trades that don’t get done as the ones that do, and this is an especially fascinating what-if: Before shipping Paul George to Oklahoma City (which was wild and surprising enough), the Pacers reached out to the Golden State Warriors and proposed a blockbuster one-for-one.
Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Pacers offered George straight up for Klay Thompson. As Woj tersely puts it, “Golden State said no to the offer, and the talks with Indiana ended there.”
George says he knew Indiana had made an offer to the Warriors:
“Yeah, I think that would’ve been the Chris Paul-to-L.A. situation where they denied that trade ... I would’ve looked forward to it, of just being in a good situation and a chance to compete for a championship. But it didn’t happen. It’s still fun to team up with a special talent and have a chance to compete against that team.”
Imagine a Warriors team that featured Steph Curry, George, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, and then try to imagine (I can’t) how you’d beat that.
But there are good reasons for the Warriors to prefer Thompson to George.
Thompson’s the better shooter, especially off the catch; he makes much more sense in an offense where the ball is going to be in the hands of either Curry or Durant more often than not. And while George is excellent on defense, Thompson edges him in perimeter defense—and with Durant there, George would have to play guard, and defend guards.
In a vacuum, George is probably the superior player. But Thompson is the perfect player for the Warriors as currently constituted, and when you’ve got a roster proven to work together so well, the last thing you want to do is disrupt it. Thompson is signed for two more seasons, George just one—and he’s said he’d like to go to the Lakers in free agency. Is a year of Paul George worth breaking up the band? Obviously not. Which doesn’t mean it’s not still fun to imagine.