The Indiana Pacers have agreed to trade four-time All-Star forward Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, sources tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. As part of the deal, the Pacers will acquire guard Victor Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis, sources said. – via ESPN
NBA executives are just as stunned as you are that the Pacers traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Seconds after the trade broke, one agent texted me nine consecutive tears-of-joy emojis. Front offices top to bottom are often huddled together at the start of free agency, doing their best to strategize their team’s future — when the news of the trade broke, one Eastern Conference war room erupted in one collective “WHAAAAAAAATTTT????!!” A Western Conference front office executive said, “There were at least three or four teams that had objectively better offers.”
What were those “objectively” better offers? Two league sources said Indiana’s demand was “two starters and three picks.” The Celtics and Nuggets were two of the teams making strong pushes for George, per multiple league front-office sources, while the Cavaliers were likely one of the others. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported the Celtics were offering Jae Crowder and another starter, with three other first-round picks, which aligns with the outlined trade structure above. The Nuggets reportedly put together a “monster” package for George at the deadline, and most recently had put Emmanuel Mudiay on the table, per one league source.
Oladipo and Sabonis weren’t going anywhere. Indiana could’ve held off on a deal, which is exactly what I was expecting. It’s hard to make sense of the timing. Pritchard seemed to have leverage — one of the executives I talked to after the deal thought so, too.