It's unlikely that Oklahoma will keep PG13 after this season
Paul George's 42 points against the Clippers may not be enough for his team to keep him.
There was no doubt in everyone's mind that from the moment Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined forces with Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder would have the firepower and more talent to take on the Houston Rockets or even the defending champions, Golden State Warriors come the playoffs.
In fact, most people were saying back then that with their newest Big 3 in the post-Kevin Durant era, the Thunder can now contend for a championship against the Cleveland Cavaliers- should both teams make it that far come June of next year. It's really nice to dream about winning championships with this kind of a team and it seems that OKC fans may have to wait much longer before their team makes that dream into a reality. Why?
Sure, the Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday, 120-111. Sure, Paul George has played his best game yet with Oklahoma, scoring 42 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Sure, the Thunder rank 3rd in the league in terms of limiting their opponents' total points in a game, only allowing their opponents to 98 points on the average.
But these don't outweigh the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder are lagging behind in the Western Conference as they are standing with a record at 5-7- good for 10th place in the West. Is that how a team with a talented Big 3 supposed to perform?
But let's just focus on one specific player: Paul George. Through 12 games into the 2017-2018 regular season, below are his averages:
- 21 points (leads the team)
- 5 rebounds
- 2 assists
- 2.58 steals (leads the NBA)
Now, those are good averages especially for a player who sustained a massively gross injury a few years back. And #13 is playing like the same player he was once during his stints with the Indiana Pacers before he sustained that injury while preparing to play for Team USA. His 42 points against the Clippers is one reminder that he has still more than left in his tank.
However, let's keep in mind that the deal that sent PG13 from Indiana to Oklahoma came as a surprise to the majority of the NBA fans as Oklahoma was not the destination everyone had thought where George would play this season. Nope! Even before the end of last season, Paul George has repeatedly stated that he intended to play for the Los Angeles Lakers come free agency 2018.
But instead, he was traded to Oklahoma.
Now here's the catchy part: The Thunder can only afford to keep either Carmelo Anthony OR Paul George. They cannot keep both beyond this season. Why? Even if both players want to come back next season, Anthony and George have player options for next season which are amounting to 27 million US Dollars and 20 million US Dollars respectively which means the Thunder will have to pay a big amount of luxury tax assuming they want to keep both players.
Let's just assume that either the Thunder choose to stick with Carmelo Anthony or, Paul George decides to leave after 1 season alongside Anthony and Russell Westbrook. Where is he heading next? One possible: Hollywood to play ball with Lonzo Ball and probably, LeBron James?