Paul George Traded to Thunder; Pacers Receive Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2017

TORONTO, ON - MAY 01:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers looks on late in the second half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 01, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers committed to taking the franchise in a new direction Friday when they reportedly shipped swingman Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported the news, while Sam Amick of USA Today confirmed and noted Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis will head to Indiana.

George took to Instagram to say goodbye and thank Pacers fans:

Citing a league source, ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman reported the Boston Celtics on draft night offered the Pacers three first-round picks—not including the the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick or the Los Angeles Lakers/Sacramento Kings pick acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers—along with Jae Crowder and one other starter. 

Rumors have swirled for months regarding George's future with the Pacers, and it became clear recently the two sides were headed for a split. According to a June 18 report from The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, George told the team he planned to leave in the summer of 2018 as an unrestricted free agent. 

Furthermore, Wojnarowski confirmed George's preferred destination was the Los Angeles Lakers—the team Amick reported he was "hell-bent" on joining back at the February trade deadline. 

A four-time All-Star, George has established himself as one of the NBA's premier two-way players over the past five seasons. 

Last year, George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from three. In fact, he was the only player in the NBA during the 2016-17 season to average at least 23 points, six boards and 1.5 steals while shooting better than 39 percent from beyond the arc.

He now joins a Thunder team that was in dire need of a second option outside of Russell Westbrook last season. Westbrook won the MVP as a triple-double machine, but he now has another superstar to help shoulder more of the load. 

As far as OKC's long-term outlook is concerned, rolling the dice on a rental is in the franchise's best interest. 

General manager Sam Presti didn't part with considerable assets to land one of the league's dominant wings, and a successful 2017-18 season by Westbrook's side could make George think twice about bolting for Los Angeles a year from now. 

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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