OKLAHOMA CITY — At his Thursday press conference, Thunder general manager Sam Presti fielded a few questions about some negative words that have been associated with Paul George’s assessment of the organization that just traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers.
One word — "stagnant" — came out of George’s mouth in an on-air interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. New teammate Kawhi Leonard was sitting next to George when he said it.
“I felt like we were just stagnant,” George said.
Presti responded as follows:
“I mean, I love PG, and, like, I would never tell him or necessarily — I don't know the context of how that was said, to be honest with you. But yeah, I mean, I think at some point the opportunity for him to play with Kawhi, at least this is what was expressed to me. The opportunity to play with Kawhi, the opportunity to go back to LA were … the biggest factor in this for him.”
“Discontent” came from a report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania that teams were “aware of the discontent of OKC’s two stars.”
Presti had fun with that one.
“I don’t know what the discontent is referring to,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the pancakes not fluffy enough or we’re not winning enough games.”
George, though, may have a case for his “stagnant” comment. The last three seasons, OKC has won 47, 48 and 49 games and exited in the first round of the playoffs all three seasons.
• Grantham waved: The Thunder made a little news after Presti’s presser, too, when, via release, the team announced Donte Grantham, who had been on a two-way contract, had been waived.
A year ago, Grantham averaged 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 27 starts with the Oklahoma City Blue. He appeared in three games with the Thunder.
The move opens up a spot for another player on a two-way deal. Teams may have as many as two players on two-way contracts, or as few as zero. Jawun Evans remains on a two-way-deal with Oklahoma City, allowing him to shuttle between the Blue and, for up to 45 days during the season, the Thunder.
• Good signs on ’Dre: Andre Roberson hasn’t played any game-time basketball since a leg injury suffered at Detroit on Jan. 27, 2018. Yet, it would appear he's very close to returning."
“He should be on track for the start of the season … I’m really excited for him,” Presti said.
He went on to say. “… he does all the stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score, except for the opponent’s score.”
• The right deal, by George: Presti also got into the decision to trade George to the Clippers, saying everybody on a team has to be pulling the same direction for it to realize it’s potential and, if that’s not the case, “I think you need to take a step back back and do the best thing for the organization.”
However, that didn’t necessarily mean trading George.
“I wouldn’t say we were going to appease the request simply because it was made,” Presti said. “But more than anything, it was because of the fact that we were able to get the return that we did, which then allowed us to accommodate what he was looking for, as well.”