Paul George says the Thunder feel like a “championship team” after Saturday’s blockbuster deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City, relays Sam Amick of USA Today. The Thunder now have last season’s scoring champ in Russell Westbrook [31.6 points per game], along with No. 15 in George [23.7] and No. 22 in Anthony [22.4].
“You put us three together, who all have something to prove still, [and] we’re going to be a special team,” said George, who was acquired from Indiana in OKC’s other major offseason move. “We have a young group, a lot of talent here, an unbelievable coach [in Billy Donovan], [and] as you see, a front office that’s willing to do whatever it takes to improve the team. It just has all the makeups to be a great organization and a chance to put championships together.”
There’s more news out of Oklahoma City:
- Anthony’s college coach, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, believes he is headed to a much better situation with the Thunder, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Boeheim says the 33-year-old Anthony improved his conditioning this summer and probably has three to four good years left in the league. “Melo had to work so hard in the triangle,” Boeheim added. “It’s a good offense, but not what he does best. He had to work so hard to get his shot, and get a shot at the end of clock, and he’d have seven seconds. He’s much better when he plays with good players, gets open shots, opportunities to post up and do things, post up as well. It’ll just be a lot easier. I think he’s anxious to prove he’s still [a star].”
- If the Thunder are the NBA’s newest superteam, Westbrook’s decision to accept an extension after Kevin Durant left for Golden State last summer made it possible, writes Royce Young of ESPN. Without that commitment, Oklahoma City may have explored a trade to avoid losing superstars in back-to-back years with no compensation. And without Westbrook, the team never would have dealt for George or Anthony. Westbrook is facing an October 16 deadline to decide on a new extension offer that would pay him $207MM over five years.
- Anthony will continue to wear No. 7 with the Thunder, Young tweets.
- Enes Kanter, who was shipped to New York in the trade, was part of the effort to convince Anthony to waive his no-trade clause for Oklahoma City, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). This summer, Kanter spoke with a coach who works with Anthony and put in a good word for the Thunder.