Why the Paul George to OKC trade is better than you think

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 28: Paul George /

The Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, and the move garnered significant criticism.

Contrary to popular belief and reports to the Oklahoma City Police Department, the Indiana Pacers were not robbed.

They made the best possible move given the circumstances. Yes, the Paul George Era has ended, and what a beautiful time is was, but the man simply couldn’t have put this organization is a worse position.

Kevin Pritchard and the rest of the Indiana brass had their backs against the wall, and Indiana should be lucky George did not play through his contract and walk, leaving Indiana with nothing.

The Silver Lining

Every cloud has a silver lining, and Pacers faithful, this holds true in the departure of Paul George. No ring came during George’s tenure, and it was highly unlikely there was one on the way with the makeup of last year’s roster.

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Also, the dominance of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers is no joke. The Pacers are not an organization that folds and starts a rebuild, but rebuilding in a time like this is not so bad if you think about the slim chances of grasping an NBA title.

Deals around the time of last year’s trade deadline were enticing, and so were pre-draft trade offers. However, Pritchard and Co. decided to wait. Indiana undoubtedly waited too long to make a deal and lost a ton of leverage in the trade market, but they did not wait as long as they could have and that’s something to be thankful for.

Behind the Trade

The Pacers received a tremendous amount of criticism following their efforts to move Paul George, or lack thereof, and many believe they left a lot on the table. That is simply not true. Draft picks have emerged as the tell-all aspect of a good trade, but they are overvalued time and time again. There’s only one Danny Ainge, and he is not in Indy the last time I checked.

Stockpiling draft picks is gambling, and that is a dangerous game to play. Indy opted to play it safe, and they made the right choice. They could have taken Boston’s or Portland’s draft pick-laden offers, or the Lakers proposal that gave the Pacers one promising player in Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson.

The LA offer came along with the 27th (Kyle Kuzma) and 28th (Tony Bradley) draft picks in this year’s draft. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but those two guys are not shifting any trade talks for Paul George.

Many other teams including Denver, Houston, Cleveland and Minnesota engaged the Pacers in talks, but nothing really advanced. The Thunder were committed to making a deal, and they caught Indy at the right time and the deal benefits both teams.

Let the rebuild begin.

The Rebuild Begins

By way of Oklahoma City, the Pacers franchise welcomes a hometown hero and one of the NBA’s best 2-way players in Victor Oladipo and a surging young asset in Domantas Sabonis. The former Oladipo averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game and 36% from beyond the arc in his 4th NBA season.

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The 6’11’ rookie, Sabonis,  put up averages of 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds across 20 minutes of action. Domantas is also a capable 3-point shooter and the son of NBA Hall of Famer, Arvydas Sabonis, which adds to his promising future.

To further legitimize the trade with OKC, look at the ages and contracts of the players Indy acquired. Oladipo and Sabonis are 25 and 21 years old respectively and their contracts do not align with today’s mad money NBA, given their abilities to play the game. Oladipo is a top 2nd-tier player and his contract of 4/$84M is an absolute steal in today’s market. Sabonis’s $2.44M contract is pennies on the dollar compared to players of his caliber.

Their ages and cheap contracts, coupled with their skills to produce are essential to a rebuild. Oladipo will be a major contributor to the Pacers 17′-18′ efforts on both sides of the ball and he will be a culture builder on a team that desperately needs a new identity. Sabonis could be as well, especially if Thaddeus Young is on his way out.

It’s easy to look at this trade and say the Pacers were robbed because we lost Paul George, but the truth of the matter is that his exit was inevitable. Indiana sent him out of the Eastern Conference and got a good deal for doing so. Oladipo is beloved in Indiana because of his days as a Hoosier in Bloomington, and his athleticism and all-around play bring a lot to the table. Also, Sabonis has a great deal of upside and can learn from a proven young player in Myles Turner, who is also the new face of the franchise.

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The future is still bright for the Pacers and saying goodbye to Paul George just may be the start to another exhilarating time surrounding Hoosier Hysteria for Indiana basketball.