Back in the summer of 2019, news broke in the middle of the night that the Thunder were trading Paul George to the Clippers for a package headlined by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander coming off of a strong rookie season and a boatload of picks. The trade was, effectively, a 2-for-1 for L.A., as trading for George was also the way they were going to secure Kawhi Leonard in free agency, and the Thunder were able to extract more for George because of it.
Four years later, the Clippers have never quite lived up to expectations as George and Leonard have never stayed healthy together, with L.A. having a ceiling of the conference finals so far with the star duo. Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, has developed into a superstar in OKC and they enter this season with real hopes of crashing the playoff party in the West. One of SGA’s vets in L.A. as a rookie was Lou Williams, who was on FanDuel’s “Run It Back” show on Monday as they talked about the Thunder adding Chet Holmgren this year, and after patting himself on the back for being a “great vet” for SGA, he was asked if he thought Gilgeous-Alexander would be this good and gave an emphatic “absolutely.”
“We were heartbroken when [SGA] got traded… Even though it was for Paul George” @TeamLou23 on Clippers trading @shaiglalex to Thunder in 2019@ShamsCharania | @ChandlerParsons | @MichelleDBeadle | @FanDuelTV
— Run It Back (@RunItBackFDTV) October 23, 2023
“Absolutely,” Williams said of whether he though SGA would be great. “We were heartbroken when he got traded. We were crushed that he got [traded]. Even though it was for PG. We knew who PG was, but we had spent so much time and energy and being instrumental in his career and his development, just making sure he’s getting extra shots. And he was so open to information and so open to learning and wanted to be great, we knew he was gonna be one of those players.”
I will fact check this just a little bit by noting Lou Williams popped up on Patrick Beverley’s Instagram celebrating the trade in Vegas the night it broke and heartbroken wouldn’t exactly be the word I’d use to describe it. That said, I do believe Williams did want to see Gilgeous-Alexander continue to grow in L.A. and was an early believer in his potential, and I’m sure there were emotions all over the place that night and in the ensuing days. That belief has certainly been proven correct, and the Thunder are surely appreciative to be reaping the benefits of SGA’s rise to stardom.