The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have both played 28 games this season. And they’re both 14-14, fighting for playoff seeding. While that’s somewhat disappointing for the Heat considering their 30-11 finish to the 2015-16 season, it signals a bigger issue for Oklahoma City. The Thunder’s experiment of teaming up Paul George and Carmelo Anthony with Russell Westbrook isn’t working. For comparison, the Thunder finished last season 47-35.
Paul George has an expiring contract. He reportedly wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Will the Thunder look to trade the 27-year-old to get something of value in return before he bolts in free agency? After all, Oklahoma City lost Kevin Durant in free agency the summer of 2016.
Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post discussed the possibility today. D’Angelo pointed out how the Heat — having several players under contract for the foreseeable future — may be at an advantage in trading with the Thunder. He said that while other teams may look for expiring contracts in trades, Oklahoma City may want players under contract to play alongside their franchise cornerstone, Westbrook.
Should Riley propose a Whiteside-for-George trade? What about a trade centered on Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson for George, as I discussed in June?
Of course, such a trade would come with the considerable risk that George would spend less than a year in Miami before signing with the Lakers. Now, Riley has traded for players on expiring contracts in the past. The Heat traded for Goran Dragic at the trade deadline in Feb. 2015 and subsequently signed him to a five-year contract that summer.
What do you think? Should the Heat bank on their culture selling George to stay in Miami long-term and lift the Heat out of mediocrity, or is George not more than a Third Team All-NBA player who can’t lead a team to the Finals? Let us know in the comments.