In July 2019, the Thunder shocked the NBA world when they shipped Paul George to the Clippers for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and several first-round picks sprinkled throughout the 2020s.
One of those first-round picks has already paid huge dividends in Jalen Williams — who’s quickly blossomed into one of the best young wings in the league.
Williams’ emergence paired with Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise to superstardom has made it very easy to argue OKC won the trade by a considerable margin — especially considering there are still several draft picks left down the pipeline.
Meanwhile, the Clippers acquired George, which helped them land Kawhi Leonard. Five seasons into the duo’s tenure, LA’s run has been highlighted by its first Western Conference Finals appearance in franchise history in 2021.
This season, both teams have been in the upper echelon of the league. The 27-13 Thunder sit in second place in the Western Conference standings while the 26-14 Clippers sit a game back in fourth place.
Following the Thunder’s 128-117 loss to the Clippers, George — who scored a season-high 38 points — reflected on the seismic deal between both teams, opinionating he thinks both teams won the trade.
“I just think both sides won,” George said. “I did think it was quite a lot that the Clippers were willing to give up. Their commitment to me is my commitment to them. Very appreciative to them for going out and grabbing me.
“Shai, when that trade first happened, we knew Shai was going to be really, really, good, but he’s special. I guess in a way, Oklahoma won that trade with the picks and future MVP, but both sides won.”
Paul George believes both the Thunder & Clippers won the SGA trade:
“I did think it was quite a lot that the Clippers were willing to give up. Their commitment to me is my commitment to them… We knew Shai was gonna be really, really good, but he’s special. In a way, Oklahoma… pic.twitter.com/bjitaiEP0a
— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) January 17, 2024
It’s not too surprising to hear George publicly back up his front office for making the deal happen. He wanted to go to LA and got his wish. It was notable to hear him concede that an argument could easily be made OKC won the deal though.
Regardless of sincerity, the Clippers need more playoff success to justify mortgaging their future to the Thunder. Perhaps this season will provide some of that.