The Oklahoma City Thunder have made a pair of surprising trades this offseason, adding star forward Paul George from the Indiana Pacers and then adding another star forward a few weeks later in former New York Knick Carmelo Anthony.
With reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook fresh off a season in which he averaged a triple-double, the Thunder look like they could be legitimate challengers to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.
That's good news for George, who felt like the Indiana Pacers made a statement by trading him to the Thunder.
According to USA TODAY, George said he was very motivated by the trade to the Thunder because he felt the Pacers wanted to send him to a spot where the Warriors would dominate his team:
“I took it as it was a kick in the behind, like, 'Go ahead and go try to beat the Warriors. Go play alongside Russ and get your butt kicked against the Warriors,'" he said. "That's how I looked at how that trade went down, because honestly we had no idea OKC was even interested or was in the trade until the trade actually happened.
"But again, I'm not here to trash Indiana. They have some of the best people I've ever met in their front office and in that organization. I grew up there. I could go on and on (with) the positives in Indiana, but that's where my thought process and my - that's where I, I guess, my opportunity to leave had opened up.”
With a chance to become a free agent next offseason, George may only be a one-year player for the Thunder, but he clearly wants to make the most of the opportunity.
George added that he can't wait to share a court with Westbrook, adding that Westbrook isn't the same hyper-intense person that he seems to be when he's in game mode:
“I knew Russ to an extent prior to this from both being SoCal guys, and you run across guys so many times and (have) interactions, All-Star weekends," he said. "But he's really a guy that has your back. He's really, like I say, a stand-up guy. To an extent, he's different from what I expected. I expected him to be who he was on the court, which is instant energy, instant - which he is, he's a fun guy. He's a jokester. But just...a guy that's he's just going to be all over you, drill sergeant attitude. But he's completely different man. He's a lovely dude."
Whether or not the Thunder can challenge the Warriors atop the Western Conference standings remains to be seen, but with George, Westbrook and Anthony on board, it will undoubtedly be an exciting year in OKC.