Last summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder shocked just about everyone in the NBA when they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers to help facilitate L.A.’s signing of Kawhi Leonard. Just a year prior, the Thunder had given George a max deal to play with Russell Westbrook and, they hoped, build another contender in OKC.
However, two straight disappointing first round exits led to George quietly asking to be dealt to his hometown team, and the subsequent year and a half has seen the Thunder put together the largest stockpile of draft assets and young players this side of the Process Sixers. Even more incredibly, they’ve done that while still being a playoff team this past season — thanks to the efforts of Chris Paul who they acquired, along with picks, for Russell Westbrook.
On Monday, word broke that the Thunder had agreed to trade Paul to the Phoenix Suns, where he’ll join Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and a young supporting cast that was one of the best stories of the Bubble, going 8-0 but falling just short of the postseason. In that deal, the Thunder have acquired yet another first round pick, alongside Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, and Jalen Lecque. Listing out everything the Thunder have received for their two former stars puts into perspective the massive haul they have gotten as well as illustrates the importance of timing and recognizing opportunity when it presents itself.
From the trades of Paul George and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder now have:
Kelly Oubre Jr.
Heat 2021 first-round pick
Suns 2022 first-round pick (protected 1-12)
Clippers 2022 first-round pick
Heat 2023 first-round pick (protected 1-14)
Clippers 2024 first-round pick
Rockets 2024 first-round pick (protected 1-4)
Clippers 2026 first-round pick
Rockets 2026 first-round pick (protected 1-4)
Pick swap rights with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025
Pick swap rights with the Rockets in 2021 and 2025
It’s quite the haul, especially when considering they got all of this, plus Danilo Gallinari who is now an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to stay in OKC, and managed to be the 5-seed out West this past season, pushing the Rockets to seven games in the first round. Now the rebuild seems to be officially on, but with Gilgeous-Alexander, Rubio (who could be moved again), and Oubre, along with their home-grown young talent, they figure to be at least competitive again this season (albeit not with postseason expectations) even as they move on from the likes of Dennis Schröder.
What Sam Presti has done in acquiring assets is spectacular, but the work is really just beginning. The question now is what they can turn all those assets into, either in these numerous drafts or in bringing star caliber players to Oklahoma City via trade.