For the second time in three days, a former Gonzaga Bulldog is changing addresses in an NBA blockbuster trade.
Oklahoma City dealt ex-Zag Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo to Indiana for four-time All-Star forward Paul George, according to media reports.
Former Zag Kyle Wiltjer and six of his Houston teammates were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in exchange for guard Chris Paul.
Sabonis was reportedly with OKC’s summer league team in Orlando, awaiting the Thunder’s opening game against Detroit at 2 p.m. PT Saturday.
Indiana also plays in the Orlando summer league. The Pacers are scheduled to face Orlando at 10 a.m. It wasn’t immediately known if Sabonis would join Indiana’s summer-league team.
Sabonis made 66 starts and averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in his rookie season. The 6-foot-10 forward made 39.9 percent of his field-goal attempts, 32.1 percent of his 3-pointers and 65.7 percent at the free-throw line.
Sabonis, 21, joins a Pacers team that finished 42-40 last season and was swept by Cleveland in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Sabonis played 20.1 minutes per game but he could assume a larger role with the Pacers. There’s a vacancy with the exit of the 6-9 George, who was joined in Indiana’s starting five by center Myles Turner (14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds) and forward Thaddeus Young (11 points, 6.1 rebounds.). The roster also includes Kevin Seraphin, Lavoy Allen and Rakeem Christmas.
The Pacers also drafted two 6-10 forwards from UCLA, T.J. Leaf in the first round and Ike Anigbogu in the second.
Sabonis was selected by Orlando with the 11th pick in 2016 and quickly traded along with Oladipo to Oklahoma City for Serge Ibaka. Sabonis made $2.44 million last season.
George, who averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds, had informed Indiana that he planned to leave the team after the 2018 season as a free agent. He’ll now be paired with league MVP Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City for at least one season.
George told the Pacers recently that he planned to leave as a free agent next summer, forcing the team to find a trade before losing him for nothing.
The trade was first reported by ESPN.
George could have been in line for the so-called “Supermax” extension – a five-year pact worth about $205 million – with Indiana this summer, had he been voted onto the All-NBA team this offseason.
He wasn’t, though if he is an All-NBA player next season – which is certainly possible with the numbers he could post playing alongside Westbrook – George would be eligible for a huge payday again. And the irony there is that if he is set on joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, as has been reported for some time, George would miss out on that massive extra windfall.
George is the second Eastern Conference All-Star from this past season to join the already-loaded Western Conference in the last few days. Jimmy Butler was traded by Chicago to Minnesota on draft night.
“Playoffs spots are opening up,” Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid noted on his Twitter account Friday night.
In the East, that certainly seems to be the case.
George broke his left leg in a gruesome scene while playing with USA Basketball in Las Vegas in 2014, which prompted fears he would never be the same. Those fears were most unfounded, since George has better than ever in the last two seasons – averaging 23.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in 2015-16, and following that up with averages of 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds this past season.
He’s been to the playoffs six times, getting to the East finals twice and losing to Miami each time.
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