Paul George Says He Was Surprised to Be Traded to Thunder

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2017

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George speaks to at a rally to introduce him to fans in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Paul George told reporters at his introductory press conference Wednesday that he was caught off guard when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for him, namely because they hadn't previously established themselves as bidders for his services.

"It was surprising," he said, according to ESPN.com's Royce Young. "This team wasn't one of the teams that we had in mind. I thought I was going to four or five other teams that were pretty active in trade [talks]. When I found out it was OKC, I was quite surprised, but at the same time I was happy about the trade."

Nonetheless, George said he was "thrilled" because he wanted "an opportunity to play for something special and ultimately to try and win a championship."

However, questions figure to linger all season long about George's future since he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.

For the time being, though, George has toed a delicate line and maintained that his primary focus is on winning—and nothing else.

"At the end of the day, all I want out of this is a chance. A chance every year to compete," he said, per Young. "That's where it stemmed from of being linked wanting to go home."

George also told Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins in an interview published Tuesday that his interest in signing with the Los Angeles Lakers was "overstated."

"For me, it's all about winning," he said. "I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I'm not a stats guy. I'm playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I've yet to do that. I'm searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I'd be dumb to want to leave that."

Now paired with Russell Westbrook, George should seamlessly slide into OKC's offense as a sterling spot-up shooter, slasher and drive-and-kick weapon who can feed off the reigning MVP to form one of the NBA's most lethal one-two punches.