The Thunder should keep an open mind about trading Paul George

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Delivering his MVP speech in 2014, Kevin Durant didn't have enough positive things to say about Oklahoma City.

"You get knocked down, but you keep getting back up, keep fighting; it's the perfect place for me," he said at the time. "The grass isn't always greener somewhere else."

Even claiming that he wanted to retire as a member of the Thunder and have his jersey retired there at the end of what would be an illustrious, championship-filled career, Durant's love for his home was obvious.

Then the summer of 2016 occurred.

And it turns out he did feel the grass was greener somewhere else.

Golden State Warriors Victory Parade And Rally

After being eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, Durant decided to leave OKC and jump ship, joining the team that just took him and Russell Westbrook down.

Despite all of the public backlash that he went through, he accomplished his ultimate goal: winning a championship. He was even named the 2017 Finals MVP, which leads to an important lesson for everyone within the NBA community.

The concept of loyalty is dead. (Just ask Isaiah Thomas.)

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

Both NBA players and franchises should understand that by now. Every player has his motivations (winning titles, money, playing for a hometown team, etc.) and every franchise has its motivations as well (making money, winning championships, rebuilding, etc.). 

Fast forward to the present day.

Even after adding All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to a roster led by reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have hovered around .500 all season long, simply not coming close to meeting the high expectations that were placed on them when the trio was formed.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings

It's also been somewhat obvious that the three of them haven't been comfortable together.

"It's a three-man circus," a Western Conference executive recently told Bleacher Report. "They don't play well together. There's no ball movement, no chemistry. You can tell by watching them play, it's out of sync. There's no rhyme or rhythm to how they play."

One man in particular has simply not fit in.

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks

"George has got to be frustrated," the executive said. "You can tell by the way he's playing. He's not playing with any enthusiasm, not playing with any spunk. He's kind of playing like a second or third wheel out there."

George entered Wednesday averaging 19.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest, but was shooting just 35.7 percent over nine December games. Additionally, he was held to 12 or fewer points in three of those contests.

Since he is slated to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season (if he declines his player option, which he's expected to do), there is a growing concern that he may not re-sign with the Thunder, especially since he has been linked to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers for some time.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

It's also worth mentioning that Anthony has a player option for next season.

Therefore, should the Thunder play out the rest of the season in mediocrity to lose yet another All-Star with no compensation?

The answer is a simple "no".

Oklahoma City Thunder v Indiana Pacers

Despite the fact that PG-13 will be a rental player for the rest of the season, there are a number of contenders that would most likely be interested in gaining his talents.

Since very few players in the league are untouchable, literally anything could happen. If the Thunder continue to struggle with their on-court chemistry, general manager Sam Presti should do everything possible to avoid another Durant-like situation that leaves the team searching for answers after losing a star.

Despite that possibility, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report reported that the team doesn't have any plans to deal George this season.

Golden State Warriors v Oklahoma City Thunder

"According to a league source with knowledge of the team's thinking, the Thunder were under no delusions that George was committing to anything beyond this season when they shipped Oladipo and Sabonis—products of the Serge Ibaka trade with Orlando—to Indiana for the four-time All-Star. Furthermore, the source said, the team has shown no inclination to entertain trade discussions," he wrote.

However, that could change over time. Just because the team has that stance right now doesn't mean that they will in a couple of weeks. The NBA's Trade Deadline is on February 8, so there's plenty of time for that mentality to be reversed.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings

Unless they receive a long-term commitment from George, they should get the best possible return for him while they still can if the team continues to play at a sub-standard level. They certainly have the talent to turn things around, but there has been no obvious progression made to assume that they will turn the corner.

If the team struggles and they don't trade him, they run the risk of letting him walk away for free, which would certainly send some Thunder fans over the edge.

L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City Thunder
Northwest Division
Kevin Durant
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Paul George

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