The Thunder did not want to move Paul George.
The 29-year-old wing — who was sent to the Clippers earlier this month in exchange for a huge package of picks and players — said at a press conference Wednesday the trade “was a mutual thing” between himself and Oklahoma City.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti, however, disagreed with George’s claim when he spoke with reporters one day later.
“I think the world of PG,” Presti said. “I think everybody knows that. I know that he had used the term ‘mutual.’ I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that because that would infer that we were wanting to trade Paul George, which I think most people would agree that that probably wasn’t on the top of our offseason priority list. But I would say that it was not adversarial at all, and I also fully respect the way that it was handled.
“And the fact that we were able to make it work in a way that benefited the franchise made it something that we could do.”
The Thunder are expected to enter a major rebuild after moving Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant this month. In those deals, they acquired eight future first-round picks, along with promising guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, wing Danilo Gallinari and nine-time All-Star Chris Paul.
“The primary focus for our organization based on the circumstances that we inherited this summer is first, we need to reposition the franchise,” Presti said. “Second to that, we need to replenish the franchise after 11 years of not ever being able to do that because we were in such a pursuit for maintaining a team that could get to the postseason and contend in the postseason year after year after year.
“And then, ultimately, we will, just like every team in the NBA or in pro sports, ultimately have to rebuild the team. I feel really good about the fact that we were able to make it work for everybody and figure out a solution.”
Oklahoma City was reportedly looking to flip Paul and had some initial discussions with the Heat, but no deal materialized, and he is expected to begin the season with the team.