Paul George knew very little about Oklahoma City when he was traded by the Pacers to the Thunder on June 30, according to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins.
The only two places he knew in the city were the hotel where his Pacers teams would stay and the Thunder arena. He barely knew Thunder star Russell Westbrook.
However, after being traded to the Thunder, George received a call with a strong testimonial for Oklahoma City from an unlikely source — Kevin Durant.
Durant, of course, infamously left the Thunder to join the Warriors in 2016, leaving the city on bad terms. Yet as George told Jenkins, Durant could only rave about the city and organisation.
“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away,'” George says. “He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.’ He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organisation in every way.”
Additionally, George also heard from Pistons guard Reggie Jackson, a former Thunder point guard who left the team on bad terms when he was traded in 2015. Jackson, a close friend of George’s, told him he would love OKC, according to Jenkins.
The question now is if the Thunder can hang onto George. The four-time All-Star has reportedly targeted signing with the Lakers when he becomes a free agent in 2018, and Oklahoma City, as Jenkins notes, isn’t particularly similar to Los Angeles. The idea of George leaving for nothing in 2018 is why few teams made big trade offers to the Pacers.
But perhaps the culture of OKC and playing alongside the reigning MVP in Westbrook can convince George to stay and form the makings of the NBA’s next super-team.