Hmm. Well, the way I see it, Paul George is a one-year rental.
So: do they want to splurge more assets on yet another short-term rental, doubling down on the 2017–2018 season, when an intact Golden State Warriors team is in their way? Or do they want to play a longer game?
If Sam doesn’t play a longer game, he’s the wrong man for OKC’s front office.
Of course some argue he’s the wrong man anyway, for not finding a way to capitalize on and retain Hardin. Though give Sam his due, the George trade made sense, since Sam dumped an overpriced contract and didn’t really hurt their longer-term fund of assets.
I’ll say this: as their roster sits right now, OKC will be fun to watch next season, and they’ll fill seats. They’ll surely make the play-offs, and they may make the Western Conference finals — stranger things have happened.
But there’s just nothing they can do to keep up with Golden State in the near term. They have to look to future roster moves, because George can’t be counted on, and he’s not enough anyway, should he decide to stay with the Thunder (very doubtful).
But when Durant tires of taking low pay, and when Thompson’s contract expires and GSW can’t offer him close to the max (or when GSW trades him early to net some younger assets, which might happen), GSW will probably lose both stars and they’ll get much weaker. That’s the time to load up on ‘attack now’ players.
Anthony would actually hurt OKC if signed to a long-term contract, because he’s already darned near the David West phase in his career: he’ll soon be just a solid bench player in limited minutes. He’s really only valuable as a starter in the short term, just another rental. He won’t elevate the Thunder past the Warriors in this coming season; he’s a gifted player, but not *that* gifted.
Giving up valuable assets (the Thunder do have some) for yet another rental is a terrible, terrible idea. It won’t work in the next season, and it’ll hurt them down the road.
For OKC today, it really ought to be about playing the longer game: acquiring, retaining and developing younger players, clearing cap space for future maneuvering, and being patient. Meanwhile, fill seats, get television revenue, make fans happy, compile a winning season, and stay hungry.
The Paul George trade fits that strategy. The Anthony trade would not.