The Los Angeles Clippers sent shockwaves across the NBA on the morning of July 6, signing Kawhi Leonard and acquiring Paul George in a blockbuster trade in one fell swoop. Leonard was considering the Clippers, L.A. Lakers and Toronto Raptors in free agency, but virtually no one expected George to join him.

Through agent Aaron Mintz, George asked for a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, just a year removed from signing a long-term contract with the team. Shortly after the trade was agreed upon, it was reported that the Thunder were “blindsided” by George’s request.

George disputes that notion, claiming his trade request wasn’t a surprise.

“This was nothing that came out of the blue; we were all on the same page,” George told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols Wednesday. “The initial plan was to give it another year, see what we could do and I did that. We played another year and it felt like we were just stagnant. Next thing was, let's move forward with other plans.”

The Thunder traded for George in the summer of 2017 when he had one year left on his contract. George signed a four-year contract—the fourth season is a player option—last summer with Oklahoma City without meeting with any other teams.

Oklahoma City was bounced from the first round of the playoffs in both seasons with Russell Westbrook and George on the roster. According to George, the Thunder were also ready to move on. 

That certainly conflicts with what was reported a few weeks ago. 

According to ESPN’s Royce Young, it was a “complete and total shock” to the Thunder when Mintz told general manager Sam Presti that George wanted to be traded. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Oklahoma City dealt their best player because they felt they had “no choice” as they tried to make the best out of a bad situation.

Were the Thunder well aware that George was ready to play elsewhere or did the organization have no reason to believe a trade request was coming? Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between.

The Athletic reported Tuesday that both George and Westbrook “communicated their discontent to the Thunder and expressed interest in the franchise possibly making significant changes.” One rival team told The Athletic that Oklahoma City talked about the possibility of trading Westbrook before the June 20 NBA Draft.

It’s possible that George and the Thunder discussed a split in the aftermath of a second straight disappointing playoff run, but the two sides ultimately agreed to move forward together when free agency began.

But Leonard provided George with an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up, giving him the chance to go back home and contend for championships with the team he rooted for growing up. It was clear that the Thunder weren’t ever going to win a title with a George-Westbrook core.

Because the Clippers feared Leonard would sign with the Lakers if they didn’t land George, the Thunder received a better trade package—Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five first-round picks and two pick swaps—for the All-Star than they would’ve gotten from any other team.

“Players talk, and when I talked to the Clippers, they had certain players they thought they could pair with me before I signed,” Leonard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “His name was on the board, and I said I would love to play with him. They made the opportunity happen in probably two to three days later. I was close to signing with other teams, but once they told me that this deal was on the table, I jumped for it.”

Oklahoma City traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets less than a week later, compiling even more draft picks for their rebuilding process.

George might have ultimately done Oklahoma City a favor, even if they weren’t expecting it.

Russell Westbrook and Paul George Russell Westbrook and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook #0 and Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder look on during the game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on February 24, 2018 in Oakland, California. Photo: Getty Images/Lachlan Cunningham