To Live and Die in LA
If you haven't told Sam Presti how much you appreciate all he's done for the Thunder, now would be the time. Last Summer, when Paul Geroge decided that playing for his hometown Clippers was a better option than staying in Oklahoma City, Presti raided his long-time friend Michael Winger of draft picks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari.
Hindsight is 20/20, but Winger has to be feeling rooked, especially when he takes into account that George spent the last season wearing on his teammates' vs.brining them together for a championship run. After the Clippers lost Game 7 to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals (in which Geroge went 2 of 11 from the three-point line and scored 10 points), he tried to rally the troops.
The Athletic's Shams Charania:
"In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, George was preaching to teammates to remain committed, for all the players to return the team this offseason and stay ready to make another run. It was met by some eye rolls and bewilderment, sources said, because George did not back up his words with action in the series, and the team has multiple free agents with decisions to make."
There is now talk the Clippers will attempt to deal George to the Nets because any relationships he has are beyond repair. Jayson Mcintyre of Fox Sports says:
"At the exit interviews, and this is just what I've heard, Paul George did not get rave reviews from his teammates. My source would not be shocked if Paul George was shipped out of town, and the potential landing spot is the Brooklyn Nets, where he would then team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. In exchange, the Clippers would get something along the lines of Caris Levert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and some sort of second-round Draft pick to balance out the rest of the deal. I'm sure the Clippers would love to get Jarrett Allen, who had to take a backseat to DeAndre Jordan because DeAndre is friends with Kyrie and Kevin Durant."
Winger needs to be on the phone with Presti, seeing what it will take to make the Thunder part with Chirs Paul. Winger was the assistant GM in Oklahoma City before taking over in Los Angles three years ago.
He spent seven seasons in the Thunder organization, and you would think during that time he built up a few favors with his former boss. The problem is that no matter how much Presti may owe Winger, the NBA has rules about trades.
You could spend all day on the trade machine, and you won't find any combination of deals that would allow L.A. to build a big three with George, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul. Not to mention they don't have any draft picks to put into play till about 2027.
For NBA fans, that's a shame because Paul's career coming full-circle to help the Clippers win a Championship would be the story of the year. It's devastating for George because Paul could help him patch any relationships he's hurt with the players and the front office.
Paul is what the Clippers need right now, but it has zero chance of happening because they paid too much for a guy who can only succeed in small markets. Paul is hoping that Presti can strike a deal with the Bucks or 76ers to get him that well-deserved ring.
As for George, if he can't make it in L.A., he won't survive in Brookly with Durant and Irving.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past eight seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.