Paul George Discusses Thunder Trade, Playing with Russell Westbrook, More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2017

FILE - In this July 12, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George answers a question at his first news conference since Oklahoma City's blockbuster trade with the Indiana Pacers, in Oklahoma City. George travels back to Indiana on Dec. 13, 2017, for the first time since the Pacers surprisingly dealt him to Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George discussed his move to the team this summer on USA Today's NBA A to Z podcast, telling USA Today's Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt that he sees the trade as a personal challenge.

"I took it as it was a kick in the behind, like, 'Go ahead and go try to beat the Warriors. Go play alongside Russ and get your butt kicked against the Warriors,'" George said. "That's how I looked at how that trade went down, because honestly we had no idea OKC was even interested or was in the trade until the trade actually happened."

George also spoke of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook in glowing terms, saying he had built a rapport with the six-time All-Star through their matchups on the court and their shared connection as natives of Southern California.

"To an extent, he's different from what I expected," George said of Westbrook. "I expected him to be who he was on the court, which is instant energy, instant—which he is, he's a fun guy. He's a jokester. But just...a guy that's he's just going to be all over you, drill sergeant attitude. But he's completely different man. He's a lovely dude."

George was the first high-profile addition for the Thunder, who also officially acquired Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks on Monday. George told Amick and Zillgitt that he thought assembling so many stars on one roster would be difficult for a small-market team but that the Thunder's offseason "goes to show what's possible with different organizations."

Thunder general manager Sam Presti is pushing in all of his chips for the 2017-18 season.

George can opt out of his contract next summer, while Anthony has an early termination option on his contract after this season as well. Most importantly, Westbrook is entering what's almost certainly the final year of his deal.

Anthony could potentially stick around since he may have a hard time matching the $27.9 million he's set to earn in 2018-19 if he hit the open market.

George, on the other hand, may only be a one-year rental. The Los Angeles Lakers received a $500,000 fine for tampering with George, and Adrian Wojnarowski reported for The Vertical in June that George prefers to sign with Los Angeles when he becomes a free agent.