Thanks to some heavy spending, the Golden State Warriors’ championship-winning core is set to stay intact through next season, but a recent report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski will leave many NBA fans wondering what might have been.
Last month, the Indiana Pacers traded All-Star forward Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of the biggest moves of the offseason. But according to one source, Indiana was also in talks with the Warriors, offering George in a straight-up deal for shooting guard Klay Thompson.
Golden State rejected the offer, and the discussions fizzled out. George was eventually dealt to the Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, widely seen as an underwhelming return. He will join Russell Westbrook, the league’s reigning MVP, to form a formidable duo in the stacked Western Conference.
George sounded happy to be with the Thunder organisation earlier this week, but he also would have been excited to play for the Warriors, who are heavy favourites to win their third title in four years next spring.
“I would have looked forward to it, of just being in a good situation and a chance to compete for a championship,” he said on Thursday. “But it didn’t happen. It’s still fun to team up with a special talent and have a chance to compete against that team.”
The George-Westbrook tandem will be highly anticipated, but it’s fascinating to think about what the Warriors would have looked like with George in the fold. They’d certainly miss Thompson’s shooting — he ranked second in the league in three-point field goals last season — but George’s size and ability to score from anywhere would draw significant attention away from Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
Either way, George seems relieved to be out of Indiana. He led the Pacers to a pair of deep playoff runs early in his career, but last season’s model went just 42-40 and was swept out of the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Oklahoma City is no Golden State, but at least George will get to share the floor with one other marquee talent.
“Now you’ve got guys teaming up; the landscape has shifted a bit,” he said. “In order to compete against that, you have to have guys that can compete at the same level as you. That’s really what this league has come down to. [The Warriors] shifted the landscape a lot.”