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#pounditThursday, August 13, 2020

Report: Paul George, Russell Westbrook did not have falling out

Paul George essentially forced his way out of Oklahoma City a year after assuring Thunder fans he was “here to stay,” and that has led to speculation that his relationship with Russell Westbrook deteriorated over the past season. That was apparently not the case.

ESPN’s Royce Young reports that the relationship between George and Westbrook was “strong” throughout their two seasons together, and there was no falling out prior to George requesting a trade. It appears George simply wanted out because he had an opportunity to play with Kawhi Leonard, as Young also noted that the Thunder were completely blindsided by the request.

The Thunder were able to secure a massive haul of draft picks from the Los Angeles Clippers in the George trade, and general manager Sam Presti deserves credit for using the Toronto Raptors as leverage to get the best deal possible. Now, the question becomes what he will do with Westbrook.

Westbrook, 30, is owed a whopping $124 million over the next three years, with a player option to make $47 million for the 2022-23 season. While the Thunder could try to build around him, unloading his contract seems like a more likely scenario if they can find a taker. A total rebuild would be easier without Westbrook’s massive salary on the books.

We know Westbrook has had plenty of well-documented issues with teammates in the past, but it sounds like George simply capitalized on an opportunity to play alongside the NBA Finals MVP. It’s hard to blame him for that.

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