Around 1 a.m. this morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder will be trading superstar Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a bevy of future draft picks.
The news shocked Thunder fans and sent reverberations around the NBA world, as Wojnarowski also reported that reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard would be joining George on the Clippers as a free agent signing.
From Wojnarowski, the world’s preeminent NBA reporter:
The Clippers are sending Oklahoma City their unprotected 2022, 2024 and 2026 picks, their unprotected 2021 and protected 2023 first-round picks via Miami, and the rights to swap picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025, league sources said.
Wojnarowski reported that George’s agent had asked Thunder general manager Sam Presti for a trade “in recent days.” George signed a four-year, $136.9 million contract with the Thunder ahead of last season.
Paul George trade is big Thunder news for fourth straight summer
The reported Paul George trade marks the fourth summer in a row where major Thunder news has broken. In July 2018, George signed his extension. In 2017, Presti obtained George via trade with Indiana and Carmelo Anthony via trade with the New York Knicks. He also re-signed Russell Westbrook to a five-year extension in September of that year.
In 2016, Kevin Durant infamously announced his departure from the Thunder on July 4. About two weeks prior, Presti had traded Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo and the draft rights of Domantas Sabonis. (Oladipo and Sabonis were the players traded to Indiana one year later for George.)
Details on Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
While the addition of five future first-round draft picks will have long-term implications for the Thunder, the Paul George trade also reportedly yields a pair of players likely to see extensive minutes next season, should they not be involved in a subsequent Presti swap.
An 11-year NBA veteran, Danilo Gallinari averaged a career-high 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season. The 30-year-old Italian forward stands 6’10” and is a career 37.6 percent shooter from three-point range. Last season, Gallinari shot 43.3 percent from three-point range. In the same season, the Thunder’s best shooter from long distance was Jerami Grant at 39.2 percent. (George shot 38.6 percent from deep while averaging nearly 10 attempts per game.)
Gallinari is in the final year of his contract, from which he will earn $22.6 million in the 2019-2020 season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is far less of a known commodity than Gallinari, but the former Kentucky Wildcat will turn 21 on July 12 after a promising rookie season in which he started 73 games and averaged 10.8 points per contest. A 6’6″ point guard, the Canadian also averaged 3.3 assists to 1.7 turnovers per game. He shot 36.7 percent from three-point range, although he averaged only 1.7 attempts per game. He was the 11th overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft and will be on the second year of his rookie deal with a $3.9 million salary next season.
The Thunder finished the 2018-2019 season with a record of 49-33, exiting the playoffs in the first round. Earlier this summer, they signed forward Mike Muscala and guard Alec Burks in free agency.