Tonight in Chicago, the NBA Draft Lottery will be announced. The Oklahoma City Thunder will not be featured as they have no first-round pick. With only a second round pick (2015 from the Boston Celtics) in their bag, the Thunder’s hands are tied.
Sam Presti has proven to be flexible when the world believes there are no moves to be made — 2016 Draft which saw the Thunder acquire Victor Oladipo, 2017 trade deadline where they added Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott.
If they want to increase their chances to retain Paul George, Thunder fans should hope for outside help.
The Cleveland Cavaliers hold a first round lottery pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. Most mock drafts predict the pick ranging anywhere from 7-10. There is always the chance the basketball gods smile on Cleveland and their pick shoots up to the top five.
Why is this important? It could help the Cavaliers keep LeBron James.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was a guest on Adrian Wojnarowski’s The Woj Pod last week, where he claimed that there is “no other great situation out there and that may end up keeping LeBron put.”
.@WindhorstESPN on LeBron James’ future in Cleveland: “There’s no other great situation and that may end up keeping LeBron put.”
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 12, 2018
James staying put in Cleveland could do so much to influence Oklahoma City’s All-Star forward to stay with the franchise.
Many believe George’s future is in Los Angeles. He has been linked to the Lakers for the better part of the last three seasons. Once George becomes a free agent on July 1st, Magic Johnson and Los Angeles will be able to go all in on their native son.
Playing for the Lakers is, of course, an advantage only enjoyed by few franchises across sports. Los Angeles possesses a nice array of young talent but are still a lottery team. Adding George would make them better no doubt, but many of the hopes of Lakers’ fans and predictions of George heading west depend on James being included in the deal.
Simply put, if James decides to stay in Cleveland, it could help eliminate the Lakers for George.
Of course, George could always want to go elsewhere. There were reports last year that James and George met and discussed playing together in Cleveland. The Philadelphia 76ers are a popular destination for free agents. The draft lottery will not guarantee Oklahoma City anything.
Last week, ESPN Los Angeles’ Chris Haynes was on Marcellus & Travis where he said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if George re-signed with the Thunder.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) May 11, 2018
In the era of “Pre-Agency,” Oklahoma City made their pitch all year to George. He developed a strong relationship with Russell Westbrook and the belief that a second year together could yield better results than the 2017-18 campaign are out there.
If Cleveland receives a top five pick, it could help the cause to keep James away from the Lakers. The decision could then become George deciding between a probable improved year two with Westbrook and the Thunder or being the guy in Los Angeles with a handful of youth who haven’t competed for the playoffs. Then Oklahoma City fans could have a glimmer of hope.
It is only a glimmer though.